COVID in California: 2 million confirmed cases and counting
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California became the first state to record 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases, reaching the milestone on Christmas Eve as close to the entire state was under a strict stay-at-home order and hospitals were flooded with the largest crush of cases since the pandemic began.
A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed the nation’s most populated state has recorded 2,010,157 infections since January. More than 23,000 people have died from the virus.
California’s infection rate — in terms of the number of cases per 100,000 people — is lower than the U.S. average but its nearly 40 million residents mean the outbreak outpaces other states in sheer numbers.
The grim milestone comes as a COVID-19 crisis that health officials say stems from Thanksgiving gatherings strains the state's medical system. More than 18,000 people are hospitalized and many of the state’s intensive care units are filled.
The state has seen its number of cases climb exponentially in recent weeks, fueled largely by people who ignored warnings and held traditional Thanksgiving gatherings, health officials say. Soaring rates of hospitalizations and deaths have overwhelmed intensive care units and prompted hospitals to put emergency room patients in tents and treat others in offices and auditoriums.
Nearly the entire state is under a stay-home order that imposed an overnight curfew, shuttered many businesses and restricted most retail to 20% capacity. Restaurants may only serve takeout.
Pleas to avoid social gatherings for the Christmas and New Year's rang with special desperation in Southern California. Los Angeles County is leading the surge, accounting for one-third of the state's COVID-19 cases and nearly 40% of deaths.
“We know that this emergency is our darkest day,...