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California hits new record for daily COVID-19 deaths with 442

California broke its record for COVID-19 deaths in a single day on Tuesday with 432 as overwhelmed hospitals prepare to ration care. 

The Golden State is now seeing one coronavirus death every three minutes, with a total of 24,958 reported to date.  

More than half of Tuesday’s statewide death toll came from Los Angeles County, where 242 fatalities were reported, according to a tally by the LA Times, bringing the total to date to 9,806.

The county, the nation’s most populous with a quarter of California’s 40 million residents, has seen hospitalizations grow by nearly 1,000 percent in the last two months to 7,181 as of Wednesday. 

State officials extended strict stay-at-home orders indefinitely in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday as both regions reel from surges in hospitalizations and zero intensive care unit capacity.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly said the orders will be lifted when the regions show ‘ICU projections above or equal to 15 percent’. 

But the regions have a long way to go to reach those numbers, Ghaly said, citing four-week projections which show that demand will continue to exceed available capacity for at least the next month. 

Governor Gavin Newsom has warned residents to brace for a ‘surge upon surge upon surge’ of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks as the effects of holiday travel and gatherings come to fruition. 

Making matters worse, California on Wednesday confirmed it’s first case of a new mutant strain of coronavirus which is believed to be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original. There are only two confirmed US cases of the strain, which was first detected in the United Kingdom.  

California broke its record for COVID-19 deaths in a single day on Tuesday with 432 as overwhelmed hospitals prepare to ration care. Pictured: Medical works tend to a patient in the intensive care unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley on Tuesday

The Golden State is now seeing one coronavirus death every three minutes, with a total of 24,958 reported to date. Statewide data is shown in the charts above

The Golden State is now seeing one coronavirus death every three minutes, with a total of 24,958 reported to date. Statewide data is shown in the charts above

More than half of Tuesday's statewide death toll came from Los Angeles County, where 242 fatalities were reported, according to a tally by the LA Times, bringing the total to date to 9,806. The chart above shows the seven-day average for daily deaths in Los Angeles County

More than half of Tuesday’s statewide death toll came from Los Angeles County, where 242 fatalities were reported, according to a tally by the LA Times, bringing the total to date to 9,806. The chart above shows the seven-day average for daily deaths in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous with a quarter of California's 40 million residents, has seen hospitalizations grow by nearly 1,000 percent in the last two months to 7,181 as of Wednesday

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with a quarter of California’s 40 million residents, has seen hospitalizations grow by nearly 1,000 percent in the last two months to 7,181 as of Wednesday

Earlier this week Newsom said the state is setting up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents there, though it’s struggling to staff them.

He said 96 percent of hospitals in the county were unable to accept patients by ambulance at some point over the weekend, compared with 33 percent in pre-surge times. 

‘Things, unfortunately, will get worse before they get better,’ the governor added. 

Governor Gavin Newsom has warned residents to brace for a ‘surge upon surge upon surge’ of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks as the effects of holiday travel and gatherings come to fruition

Models used for planning show hospitalizations more than doubling in the next month from about 20,000 to more than 50,000. 

California has deployed more than 1,000 people to 116 hospitals and other facilities in the state through a volunteer corps or the National Guard. 

Over-stretched healthcare providers around the state have already begun limiting care to more crucial patients than they normally would, particularly in Southern California, where Ghaly said hospitals are ‘in crisis’. 

Ghaly said that in Los Angeles County, first responders have been declining to transport less severely ill patients to the hospital – often for their own benefit.  

‘[EMTs] are assessing patients and releasing them to stay at home, because they aren’t quite sick enough to need hospital-level care,’ he said. 

‘If they did come to the hospital, they may not get the type of attention that they might expect.’ 

Models used for planning show hospitalizations more than doubling in the next month from about 20,000 to over 50,000. Current hospitalization rates for the state are shown above

Models used for planning show hospitalizations more than doubling in the next month from about 20,000 to over 50,000. Current hospitalization rates for the state are shown above

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly said that in Los Angeles County, first responders have been declining to transport less severely ill patients to the hospital. Pictured: Paramedics administer oxygen to a COVID-19 patient in Hawthorne on Tuesday

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly said that in Los Angeles County, first responders have been declining to transport less severely ill patients to the hospital. Pictured: Paramedics administer oxygen to a COVID-19 patient in Hawthorne on Tuesday

Surge tents for a 50-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients are seen outside the University of California, Irvine Medical Center as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in Orange, California, on Monday

Surge tents for a 50-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients are seen outside the University of California, Irvine Medical Center as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in Orange, California, on Monday

A view of Arrowhead Medical Center's trailers under construction to help with the wave of COVID-19 patients in California

A view of Arrowhead Medical Center’s trailers under construction to help with the wave of COVID-19 patients in California

State officials notified hospitals late Monday they should prepare for the possibility that they will have to resort to ‘crisis care’ guidelines established earlier in the pandemic, which allow for rationing treatment when staff, medicine and supplies are running short. 

Ghaly and other health officials have said people ignoring social distancing to gather with friends and relatives over Thanksgiving led to a ‘surge on top of a surge’ that has resulted in the medical crisis. 

‘Much of what we’re dealing with is avoidable. Much of what we’re seeing can be stopped if we collectively make decisions to stop it and those decisions are to wear our masks, stay at home in this critical time, when we do go out make sure we remain socially distanced and don’t see anyone outside our households,’ Ghaly said Tuesday.

‘As we go into the New Years weekend, do as much as you can. Decide to celebrate virtually. Make a decision to help yourself and help us stop this surge.’ 

As hospitalization rates remain explosively high in the state’s southern regions, they’ve begun to plateau elsewhere. 

The Greater Sacramento area and the Bay Area regions will be eligible to exit the lockdown order as soon as January 1 and January 8, respectively, if ICU capacity improves as projected. 

Northern California is currently only region in the state not under a stay-at-home order.  

Los Angeles County’s hopes for an easing of coronavirus restrictions took a blow on Sunday when the California 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the county can keep its ban on outdoor dining in place at least until early February, regardless of state rules.  

The appeals court’s order paused a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge’s ruling that would have required county public health officials to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of the temporary ban first implemented in late November. 

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for February 10, meaning that the ban can remain in place at least until then.       

State officials extended strict stay-at-home orders indefinitely in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday as both regions reel from surges in hospitalizations and zero intensive care unit capacity

 State officials extended strict stay-at-home orders indefinitely in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday as both regions reel from surges in hospitalizations and zero intensive care unit capacity

As Los Angeles County’s average daily coronavirus death toll has grown to 111 in the past week, funeral homes in the area are struggling to find storage space, with one even renting out a 52-foot refrigerated truck to cope with the influx of bodies. 

Magda Maldonado had the large trailer delivered to the Continental Funeral Homes in East Los Angeles Saturday. 

It was parked next to a 20-foot trailer that Maldonado had rented in the summer, but it is no longer big enough to accomodate the number of bodies coming in each day. 

‘No funeral home around here has a container large enough to accommodate the number of people who are dying from COVID,’ the funeral director told Daily Beast.

Continental Funeral Home driver Manuel Aguilar locks a mobile refrigerator used to store Covid-19 victims in Los Angeles

Continental Funeral Home driver Manuel Aguilar locks a mobile refrigerator used to store Covid-19 victims in Los Angeles  

Maldonado has had two employees lose a parent to COVID-19, with another staff person’s daughter testing positive for the virus over the holiday weekend. That employee was ordered to stay at home. 

‘We’re in a crisis and the situation is getting desperate,’ Maldonado said. ‘Funeral homes do not have space to receive more bodies. Everyone is working seven days a week plus overtime. We’re exhausted.’ 

But the problem for local funeral homes has grown beyond simply having too many bodies and not enough space.

‘Wood is getting scarce, especially pine, which is the most inexpensive,’ said Auriel ‘Guero’ Suarez, owner of the Universal Caskets Manufacturing Corporation in East Los Angeles. ‘In 52 years in the business, I’ve never seen anything like this.’ 

 ‘The caskets are practically flying out the door as soon as they’re built,’ he added. 

Hollywood is urged to halt movie production to help contain COVID-19 outbreak

Hollywood has been urged to halt movie production to help contain the outbreak of Covid-19 in California as more than 7,000 people – a record number – are hospitalized with the disease in Los Angeles.

In an email sent on December 24, circulated by FilmLA – the county’s non-profit film office – the health department encouraged industry contacts to pause work.

‘Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases,’ the email said.

It advised that filmmakers ‘identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible.’

In an email sent on December 24, circulated by FilmLA - the county's non-profit film office - the health department encouraged Hollywood filmmakers to pause productions

In an email sent on December 24, circulated by FilmLA – the county’s non-profit film office – the health department encouraged Hollywood filmmakers to pause productions

FilmLA were also asked to remind filmmakers that they are advised against travelling for production purposes during the crisis.

While travel is allowed within California, it increases the likelihood of people being inside a vehicle together or being in other enclosed indoor settings.

The email stressed the importance of the new precautions with Los Angeles hospitals nearing capacity, but added that there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in the form of two approved vaccines being administered.

Earlier in December, shooting on a remake of the 1999 romantic comedy ‘She’s All That’ shut down LA’s Union Station – one of the city’s major coronavirus testing sites – according to The Hill.

FilmLA claimed that when it issued the permit for the filming to be done at the station, it had not realized it was being used as a testing site. 

Many blockbuster movies have been delayed in 2020 due to the pandemic, including the up-coming James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’, Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ and Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’. 

Some movies, such as ‘Wonder Woman 1984’, have been released during the pandemic, but have found success on streaming platforms while cinemas in many countries around the world remain closed.

The email comes after the The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) said that ‘most’ productions would be on-hold until the third week of January, if not later. 

‘Most entertainment productions will remain on hiatus until the second or third week of January if not later,’ a statement from the labor group said on Tuesday.

‘This means that the number of our member performers working on sets right now is reduced. Our safety protocols ensure appropriate precautions for the holiday hiatus period including additional time for testing prior to the resumption of production.’ 


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