California virus deaths top 30,000 after deadliest weekend on record


LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — California’s coronavirus catastrophe reached a staggering new level Monday as the nation’s most populous state recorded more than 30,000 deaths since the pandemic started nearly a year ago.

Deaths have dramatically increased since a new COVID-19 wave began in October. It took California six months to record its first 10,000 deaths. But in barely a month, the total rose from 20,000 to 30,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Over the weekend, state officials reported a two-day record of 1,163 deaths. Hospitalizations also have exploded and many hospitals are stretched to the limit.

California ranks third nationally in coronavirus deaths, behind Texas and New York, which is in the No. 1 position with nearly 40,000.

Health officials have warned the worst is yet to come later this month, when there’s full picture on infections from the holidays.

In Los Angeles County alone, deaths have topped 12,000 and confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 920,000, according to public health officials.

During the weekend, LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer characterized the spread of the virus as “immense” and said it reflected unsafe things people did during the holidays, making any activity outside a household much more risky.

“This is just not the time to go to the shopping mall or to a friend’s house to watch a basketball or football game,” Ferrer said.

The agency that oversees emergency medical services in Los Angeles County recently issued new directives for paramedics transporting patients in ambulances as the coronavirus pandemic places increasing pressure on Southern California hospitals’ ICU capacity.

Meanwhile, LA County also announced it will stop using Curative COVID-19 tests at pop-up testing sites after the Food and Drug Administration alerted patients and health care providers that the test could produce false negatives.

The department said Curative PCR tests at the pop-up sites between Dec. 13 and Jan. 2 made up about 10% of all COVID-19 tests administered at county-supported test sites during that same time frame. The switch to Fulgent Genetics tests will take place this week.

In another change, the city of Los Angeles announced late Sunday that its huge COVID-19 testing site at Dodger Stadium will be transformed into a massive vaccination center by the end of the week.

“This shift in resources will temporarily reduce testing capacity in LA County, but it will more than triple the number of daily vaccines available to be dispersed to Angelenos,” a city statement said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said vaccines are “the surest route to defeating this virus and charting a course to recovery.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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