COVID pandemic: California breaks grim records with more than 53,000 new cases, 293 deaths in 1 day

The alarming number of new cases surpasses a record set just three days ago when California recorded 35,729 new cases.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- California on Wednesday reported a record-breaking 53,711 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of cases the state has seen in a single day since the pandemic began.

The alarming number of new cases surpasses a record set just three days ago when California recorded 35,729 new cases.

The state now has 1,671,081 cases in total.

Another 293 people died of the virus in the 24-hour period, bringing California's death toll to 21,481, which marks the highest number of deaths in a single day. The state is averaging 163 virus deaths per day, up from 63 just two weeks ago.

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Another 14,939 Californians remain hospitalized with the virus and 3,188 patients are in the ICU, both of which break records for the highest number of hospitalizations and intensive care patients to date.

The state's latest COVID-19 data came as the Southern California region's ICU capacity dropped to an alarming .5%.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom said that California is expecting another 393,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week.

The state is distributing 5,000 body bags mostly to the hard-hit Los Angeles and San Diego areas and has 60 refrigerated trailers standing by as makeshift morgues.

In Fresno County, officials said Tuesday that just 16 ICU beds remained available and were filling rapidly. To keep up, the county's hospital system has contracted with a Virginia company to supply doctors, nurses and others to staff a temporary 50-bed facility that will start receiving patients by the end of the week.

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"Unfortunately, I'm anticipating a grim set of weeks before and after the New Year, just given the trends that we're seeing with the number of cases," said Dr. Rais Vohra, the county's interim public health officer.

In Orange County, health officials planned to send large tents to four hospitals to help accommodate patients.

Bruce Barton, EMS director for Riverside County, said a couple of hospitals hit capacity in the past week and local officials had to step in to take some bodies.

KGO-TV and the Associated Press contributed to this report.