California counties reported 218 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, topping the state’s highest single-day COVID-19 death total for the second time this week, with the Bay Area also logging its highest single-day death count of the pandemic.
By nearly every metric, the state is coming off its worst day of the pandemic, recording its largest single-day case total of 35,575 on Friday. It also saw pandemic-high numbers for both its seven-day case average (30,392) and seven-day death average (151.14).
If recent history is any indication, the coming days may dust some of those numbers. California has already broken its own highest single-day case count several times in the past two weeks. But the state has done better at slowing down its fatalities, with Friday marking only the second time it has topped its single-day death record since the end of July.
California also surpassed the 1.5-million-cases milestone on Friday, reaching a cumulative total of 1,521,480 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to data compiled by this news organization.
Health officials across the state have pleaded with residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary, though businesses in multiple regions are pushing back on the notion that their gathering spaces are to blame for spreading the virus.
Amid the grim new milestones in the pandemic’s deadliest stretch, the impending arrival of vaccines signals a ray of hope. California expects to receive about 263,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine after the pharmaceutical company received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday to begin immunizing people against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Bay Area counties joined the state as a whole in recording their highest single-day death count of the pandemic on Friday. The 10 counties comprising the region reported 25 total deaths — topping a previous record of 21 set the day before — to go with 3,767 new cases.
Santa Clara, Contra Costa and Alameda counties led the charge to the new regional record, respectively logging 7, 6 and 5 new deaths.
The Bay Area continues to straddle a tightrope in California’s latest set of restrictions. At the end of Friday, about 16.7% of all ICU beds in the region were available to new patients, according to state data. If that number shrinks below 15%, the state will issue a stay-home order for all counties in the region.
Most counties have voluntarily taken the plunge in an effort to slow the COVID-19 case explosion, but San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Napa and Solano counties have not yet adopted tougher restrictions on their own.
On Friday, Sonoma County decided to join Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Marin in issuing its own stay-home order to residents. Monterey County, also part of the region, had announced it would adopt the restrictions Sunday.
San Mateo County, which continues to resist voluntarily adopting tougher restrictions without a state mandate, reported 2 new coronavirus-related deaths on Friday. Santa Cruz County, another holdout, saw 3 new deaths.
But even as cases explode, some businesses are firing back at government restrictions. Restaurants and bars have challenged local bans on outdoor dining. In Contra Costa County, one group of businesses filed a joint lawsuit against the county’s health department on Friday, while about a dozen other restaurants declared they would not shut down outdoor service.
A judge earlier this week ruled that Los Angeles County acted “arbitrarily” to ban outdoor dining, but concluded that restaurants and bars in the county could not reopen outdoors because state restrictions override local jurisdictions. Only 6.2% of Southern California’s ICU beds were available to new patients on Friday.
San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties have spearheaded the case explosion in the region, respectively logging 129.8 and 100.5 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.