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Coronavirus hospitalizations hit new record to end 2020

Leonida Lipshy, a registered nurse COVID-19 unit at the Broward Health Medical Center-Imperial Point, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., displays a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Leonida Lipshy, a registered nurse COVID-19 unit at the Broward Health Medical Center-Imperial Point, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., displays a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Coronavirus hospitalizations in the United States soared to a record of more than 125,000 over the last two days of 2020 as overall cases topped more than 220,000 for the eighth time in December, according to the latest COVID figures.

Hospitalizations jumped to a single-day record 125,220 Wednesday, which then was topped Thursday with another 125,379 on New Year's Eve, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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There were 221,444 total coronavirus cases reported Thursday, just under the 224,638 diagnosed Wednesday. Since the pandemic started, the United States surpassed the 20 million case mark, the highest total of any nation.

In California, more than 21,000 COVID-19 patients taking up hospital beds with 4,500 in intensive care units.

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Dr. Ahmad Kamal, of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said are seeing a severe outbreak. "We are clearly not out of the woods," Kamal said. "We are in the thick of the woods."

Los Angeles hit single-day highs for COVID-19 deaths in the final three days of 2020, with 291 recorded deaths Thursday. The startling number has forced mortuaries to turn away families because they are filled to capacity, leaving hospitals morgues scrambling to find space.

"We're running out of ambulances, and our responses to 911 calls are getting longer and longer," Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency Director Cathy Chidester said.

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In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the Georgia World Congress Center, the state's largest convention facility, will start accepting overflow patients next week because hospitals have reached capacity.

Florida became the third state to document a person infected with the British variant of the coronavirus, pointing to the growing spread of the more infectious strain.

Florida joins Colorado and California as states that have identified at least one person with the variant.

It's something the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he expected. He said the variant, supposedly 70% times more contagious than the strain that sparked the pandemic, already could be in several states.

The Florida Department of Health issued a Twitter post about its diagnosis Thursday night.

The variant caused British officials earlier last month to institute its strictest coronavirus lockdown in the southwest portion of the country, including London.

According to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States reported 227,315 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday with 3,419 deaths, which continues to be the most in the world.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, 83.5 million cases have identified worldwide, with 19.9 million of those in the United States. The cases have resulted in 1.8 million deaths globally and 345,013 in the United States.

Mississippi and Louisiana reached its largest single-day case total Wednesday since the pandemic started.

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