California overcomes 2 million cases in its incredible increase in COVID

It took California more than nine months to register 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

It took less than six weeks to see 1 million more.

Once considered a model to curb the spread of COVID-19, California on Wednesday surpassed 2 million registered cases of the deadly disease, reaching the milestone with the approach of Christmas amid the darkest and most dangerous days of the pandemic.

Hundreds of people die from the virus in California each day. A multitude of new patients threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Even when vaccinations begin to be implemented more broadly and local health officials are clinging to signs in test data that this devastating increase in the virus may be peaking, they are preparing for more deaths and fear that the Christmas and New Year, like Thanksgiving Day before them, feed another devastating wave of cases, as people inadvertently spread the virus among friends and family.

“Our hospitals are on the brink – about to be postponed,” said Dr. Ahmad Kamal, director of health care preparation for Santa Clara County, where only 35 beds in the intensive care unit remained available on Tuesday . “Get your phone now. Cancel any meeting with people who don’t live with you.

“Please,” added Kamal, “I beg you.”

More than 2.5 percent of California’s 39.5 million residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past six weeks.

California registered its millionth coronavirus case on November 12, according to data compiled by this news organization; probably reached that milestone earlier, but limited testing, especially in the early days of the pandemic, meant that many cases were never officially confirmed.

Forty-one days later, data collected from local public health offices showed that the state surpassed 2 million cases late Wednesday afternoon, with some counties still not reporting their daily totals.

As of November 12, the state averaged just under 7,000 new cases of coronavirus a day, and just over 4,000 people were being treated for the virus in hospitals. As of Tuesday, California had an average of more than 45,000 cases a day in the previous week, and the number of COVID patients in hospitals had surpassed 19,000. More patients are being treated for COVID-19 in California hospitals today than were hospitalized during the spring peak of the virus in New York.

Only 1.1 percent of beds in intensive care units across California were available on Wednesday, said Governor Gavin Newsom. In the hard-hit Central Valley, San Joaquin County health officials reported that all ICUs were operating at or above – some well above – their licensed capacity.

The California Community Vaccine Advisory Committee met on Wednesday to continue the debate on how the state should distribute the millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it expects to receive in the coming months. Health professionals began receiving the vaccine last week. Residents and staff in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are expected to receive you in the coming days and weeks.

The state focused on three categories of frontline employees – educators, first responders and essential workers in the agriculture and grocery industries – to be next in line. Authorities are now evaluating whether to add people aged 75 or over, whose age puts them at risk for serious or deadly cases of COVID-19; a separate state vaccines working group will be established to address the issue at a meeting next week.

In the meantime, there was a slight glimmer of hope that the current wave may be slowing.

Newsom and acting state health officer Erica Pan said on Wednesday that the percentage of positive coronavirus tests has decreased slightly in the past few days. But, while speaking to the vaccine committee, Pan warned that, with so many people infected, the situation in California hospitals “may get worse before it gets better.”

Epidemiologist George Rutherford of the University of California at San Francisco said the main measure known as effective reproduction – the number of people to whom each infected person is transmitting the virus – has been on a downward trend in the bay area in recent days. .

“I think we’re going to turn the corner,” said Rutherford. “We haven’t turned yet, but there are some signs of slowing down.”

Still, any progress could be nullified if family reunions over Christmas led to the kind of spike in new cases that California has experienced in the weeks since Thanksgiving.

“We can’t take that much,” said Rutherford.