In another grim milestone, Los Angeles County, the most populous in the US, registered more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since the onset of the raging pandemic earlier this year.
On Sunday, the county reported 10,528 new cases and 23 additional deaths.
The fresh cases set the fifth new record in the past six days.
Hospitalisations in the county. home to over 10 million people. also reached a new high, rising from 2,855 on Sunday from 2,769 a day earlier.
These worrisome figures came with the entire Southern California region hours away from sweeping new health restrictions intended to stem the rapidly increasing number of hospitalisations and prevent intensive care units (ICUs) from being stretched to the breaking point.
According to the regional stay-at-home regulation issued by the California government last week, since from 11.59 p.m. on Sunday, new restrictions were implemented in the Southern California region consisting of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Under the order, which will remain in effect for at least three weeks, many businesses, including indoor and outdoor playgrounds, hair salons, movie theatres, live audience sports, museums, zoos, and aquariums among others, will be forced to close.
Meanwhile, retail stores will be limited to 20 per cent of capacity. Restaurants will be restricted to takeout and delivery service only.
Hotels would be allowed to open “for critical infrastructure support only”.
This status was triggered by intensive care units bed availability when it goes below 15 per cent in a region.
The Southern California region’s available ICU capacity was 10.3 per cent on Sunday, down from 12.5 per cent Saturday and 13.1 per cent Friday.
The Southern California region will be eligible to exit from the order on December 28 if its ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15 per cent.