California shatters daily COVID-19 record with more than 62,000 new cases as hospital conditions worsen

Nurse Ashley Cohagen works with an ICU patient last week at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

California once again shattered a new daily record for most number of coronavirus cases in a single day on Monday, a troubling sign days before a Christmas holiday that officials fear could bring still greater spread of the virus.

A county-by-county tally conducted by The Times for Monday found 62,661 new coronavirus cases reported — the most in a single day since Friday, when 53,326 coronavirus cases were reported.

The state is now averaging nearly 45,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week — more than seven times the comparable figure from six weeks ago.


The Times’ tally found 252 COVID-19 deaths across California Monday, which is the fifth-highest single-day death tally so far in the pandemic. California is now averaging 247 COVID-19 deaths every day over the past week, a new record and more than five times the comparable tally from six weeks ago.

There are now 1.93 million confirmed coronavirus cases in California, and 22,928 COVID-19 deaths, according to The Times’ tally.

The rate at which coronavirus test results are coming back positive over the past seven days hit 13.31% Monday, slightly lower than the comparable figure from the day before, which was 13.39%. Sunday’s figure was the highest since April.

On Sunday, more than 17,000 people with COVID-19 were in the hospital in California, including more than 3,600 in the ICU. Both are records for the pandemic. Statewide, only 2.5% of the state’s intensive care unit beds were available.

L.A. County has reported an average of 84 COVID-19 deaths a day over the past week — six times the comparable number from six weeks ago. The county is also reporting nearly 15,000 new coronavirus cases every day over the past week, nearly eight times the comparable figure from six weeks ago.


On Monday, L.A. County reported 12,398 new coronavirus cases and 60 COVID-19 deaths.

More Californians are dying from the disease than ever before.

Nearly 2,900 Californians have died from COVID-19 over the last 14 days, a staggering number that accounts for 12% of the state’s 22,928 fatalities.

Those numbers serve as a “sober, sober reminder of how deadly this disease is, and how tragic the loss of every life is,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Sweeping restrictions on businesses and activities are expected to remain in place past their original expiration date across a wide swath of California, as the availability of precious intensive care beds continues to dwindle in the face of an unrelenting COVID-19 surge.

Though nothing is definite yet, Newsom acknowledged Monday that the stay-at-home orders issued for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will likely need to be extended.


The two regions — which cover 23 of California’s 58 counties — are technically eligible to emerge from the state order beginning next week.

However, as Newsom noted, it’s doubtful either will do so, as both have seen a steady erosion in their stocks of intensive care unit beds that are available to treat COVID-19 patients.

As of Monday, the ICU availability in both regions remained at 0%, state figures show.

Available ICU capacity effectively maxed last week in Los Angeles County, and as of 9 a.m. Sunday, a point-in-time survey found that there were only 30 available ICU beds in this county of 10 million people; significantly down from a tally last week that found 69.

L.A. County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said emergency departments are slammed across the county. Over the weekend, one hospital struggled to both care for a high number of COVID-19 patients while treating critical injuries suffered by a large family struck by a suspected drunk driver, Ghaly said.

Times staff writers Sean Greene and Casey Miller contributed to this report.