California reports record daily increase in COVID-19 cases

California reported a record daily increase of more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, health authorities said.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed 20,759 new cases over the past 24 hours in a daily release, significantly surpassing the previous high of 18,350 cases set last week. But officials said that “numbers do not represent true day-over-day change as these results include cases from prior to yesterday.”

An additional 113 deaths were reported, bringing the state’s death toll from the disease to 19,324.

California, home to around 40 million residents, has seen 1,245,948 confirmed cases so far. It became the second U.S. state to reach the bleak milestone of 1 million confirmed cases last month.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate, the percentage of positive cases after taking a test for COVID-19 infection, is 7.3 percent and the 14-day positivity rate is 6.9 percent, compared with 6.5 percent and 5.9 percent respectively a week ago.

There have been 24,299,126 tests conducted across California, up from 137,813 in the prior 24-hour reporting period, said public health officials.

A total of 9,365 people in the state are currently hospitalized due to the virus, up 3.4 percent from the prior day. More than 2,100 of them are now in intensive care unit.

As of Tuesday, local health departments have reported 53,409 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 218 deaths statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Officials said that “the state is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic and this summer.”

They noted that if COVID-19 continues to spread at this rate, it could quickly overwhelm the state’s health care system and lead to “catastrophic outcomes.”