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A months-long surge of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County is reaching its grim if inevitable zenith as deaths reach once-unthinkable levels, medical infrastructure is buckling under a flood of patients and officials fear the mortality numbers will only worsen in the coming weeks.

The county recorded an average of 151 people dying from COVID-19 each day in the past week — a figure that’s almost as high as the average number of people dying daily from every other cause, about 170 a day. But more recently, those numbers have spiked considerably.

Single-day COVID-19 death records have been broken every day for the last three days of the year, with 242 deaths reported Tuesday, 262 on Wednesday and 291 on New Year’s Eve.

The sheer number of fatalities is causing more challenges to already overwhelmed hospitals and other institutions. Many hospital morgues are now filled with bodies, and officials are trying to move them for temporary storage at the county medical examiner-coroner’s office.

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