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California records more than 20,000 new cases Monday in grim milestone

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 11/24/2020 By Michael Williams
a group of people standing in front of a store: Licensed vocational nurse Caren Williams, left, collects a nasal swab sample from a traveler at a COVID-19 testing site at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) © Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Licensed vocational nurse Caren Williams, left, collects a nasal swab sample from a traveler at a COVID-19 testing site at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

California on Monday recorded more than 20,000 new cases of the coronavirus — smashing previous daily records and setting a grim milestone as the state and the rest of the country continues to see explosive spread of the virus.

The state recorded 20,654 cases of the virus Monday, according to The Chronicle’s coronavirus tracker. The previous daily record, set one week ago, was 13,412. Monday’s tally could potentially be attributed to a lag in weekend reporting; only 5,842 new cases were reported Sunday.

The state is also seeing testing rates rise — including a major spike over the weekend, potentially from people seeking to get tested before they travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. About 265,477 test results were reported on Saturday, up from 241,281 the previous day, according to state data.

But the rate of tests coming back positive is also inching upward; 5.5% of the tests taken over the past two weeks came back positive for the coronavirus, a 1.7% increase over the preceeding two weeks.

The state on Monday reported that 6,254 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, a nearly 5% increase over the previous day. Just over 2,000 ICU beds remain available in the state.

Public-health experts have been warning people for weeks to avoid traveling and large gatherings this Thanksgiving; the mix of several high-risk activities — including traveling, being indoors at a close distance with other people, eating, talking and sharing food — can all contribute to a perfect recipe of coronavirus spread.

Health officials also anticipated more people seeking testing as they plan to travel for Thanksgiving. San Francisco’s deputy health director, Dr. Naveena Bobba, urged people planning to travel against using the city’s free testing sites.

California last week issued a travel advisory, asking residents to not travel out of state for the holiday or any other non-essential reason, and recommending a two-week quarantine for those who do.

More than 3 million people traveled through TSA checkpoints from Friday to Sunday, according to the federal agency.

Michael Williams is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: michael.williams@sfchronicle.com; Twitter: @michaeldamianw

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