California set another record for new coronavirus cases Friday as an unprecedented surge in infections showed no signs of slowing.
The state logged 53,326 new cases of the virus, according to a Los Angeles Times county-by-county tally, topping the previous record of 52,330 cases set Wednesday and marking the third consecutive day that new cases surpassed 50,000.
Before Wednesday, the state had never added more than 50,000 cases in a single day. The state’s previous single-day record for new cases, set Monday, was 42,088.
California is now averaging more than 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the last week, a new record and 10 times the figure from Halloween.
The state also set records for COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, when 295 deaths were recorded, and then again on Wednesday, when 393 people were reported to have died, according to The Times survey. The state recorded 265 more deaths Friday.
California is now averaging 226 deaths a day, also a new record, and five times the comparable figure from early November.
The rise in cases has resulted in a tsunami of patients seeking care at the state’s hospitals. There were 16,019 COVID-19 patients in California hospitals Thursday, according to data released by the state Friday, an increase of more than 600% from two months before, when there were 2,286 patients.
The availability of intensive care unit beds throughout Southern California hit 0% Thursday, and officials warned that conditions in hospitals are expected to erode further if the coronavirus continues to spread unchecked.
Many hospitals are preparing for the possibility of rationing care in the coming weeks as the number of patients exceeds their staffs’ abilities to care for them.
Hospital officials are simultaneously scrambling to provide the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to their workers.
In L.A. County, hundreds of healthcare workers at county-run hospitals have received a vaccine dose so far, and that number is expected to hit 1,500 by the end of Friday and roughly 6,000 by Christmas, officials said earlier this week.
While the vaccine’s arrival has some expressing cautious optimism, it’s expected to take months for enough doses to be available for anyone who wants one. Members of the general public who aren’t healthcare workers, essential workers or members of medically high-risk groups may be able to get vaccinated in the spring or summer.
In the meantime, officials say, it’s important for people to continue to wear face coverings, keep six feet apart from others and refrain from gathering with those from different households.
Times staff writers Soumya Karlamangla and Adam Elmahrek contributed to this report.