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COVID surge: California hospitalizations double summer peak

California

LOS ANGELES — Medical staffing is stretched increasingly thin as California hospitals scramble to find beds for patients amid an explosion of coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm the state’s emergency care system.

As of Sunday, more than 16,840 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infections — more than double the previous peak reached in July.

An enormous crush of cases in the last six weeks has California’s death toll spiraling ever higher. Another 161 fatalities were reported Sunday.

All of Southern California and the 12-county San Joaquin Valley to the north have exhausted their regular intensive care unit capacity, and some hospitals have begun using “surge” space.

A nurse in hard-hit Los Angeles County estimates she’s been averaging less than 10 minutes of care per patient every hour.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

In Congress, negotiators have reached agreement on a new round of pandemic aid that would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefits and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, along with a fresh round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and funding for schools, health care providers, and renters facing eviction. An expert committee has put people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers next in line for COVID-19 shots as a second vaccine began rolling out to U.S. hospitals. European countries are halting U.K. flights, fearing a new coronavirus variant. The variant seems to spread more easily than others, though experts are unsure about that, and they add that there is no evidence that it is any deadlier.

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