California set a new record for the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 this week. That surge of deaths has pushed the state as a whole past 25,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The disease has killed more Californians on each of the last two days than any other day throughout the course of the entire pandemic — a back-to-back battering that has propelled the state’s total death toll past 25,000.

In the last three days, more than 1,100 people statewide have died from COVID-19, including a record-high 442 Tuesday and the next-highest total, 424, on Wednesday…

The situation has gotten so bleak that some mortuary and funeral home operators are saying they have to turn away bereaved families because they don’t have the capacity to handle more bodies.

The situation is worst in LA County. At present someone in LA County dies from the virus, on average, every 10 minutes. LA’s Public Health account on Twitter has been tweeting out warnings trying to personalize the threat every 10 minutes as a way to get people’s attention:

It goes on like that for hours. That’s a bit of theater but it does reflect something real. Hospitals in southern California are struggling to keep up right now.

For Dr. Anita Sircar, an infectious disease specialist, there are no breaks and few days off…

“It’s relentless,” Sircar said, speaking on the phone between patient rounds and doctor meetings at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance…

For ICU nurse Lindsey Burrell, who works at Providence hospital with Sircar, trying to balance family life with work life sometimes means bottling up her pain and anxiety after having watched patients die day in and day out…

“Patients are scared to death,” she said. “They plead for their lives. They know they’re going to die. It tears us apart.”…

“We can’t take much more,” she said.

There’s also a new concern. The state has identified its first case of the newer strain of the virus, the one that appears to be significantly more transmissible than the current strain. And the person who has it has not traveled recently, meaning this is already spreading in San Diego County.

I’m a long way from the front lines of this but I can feel the difference. During the initial wave of the pandemic in the spring, I was never personally worried. I think we all judge situations like this not just by what we read in the papers but also by what we see around us. I knew a lot of people were getting sick around the world and in the U.S. but I didn’t see that up close. No one I knew tested positive or was hospitalized in the spring. It seemed the threat was in Italy or New York, always at a distance. And relatively speaking, California seemed to be doing pretty well. I was more worried about my extended family living in other states than about my immediate family.

That’s changed in the past month. Now I know people, close friends, who have been exposed. People I know or that my kids know have tested positive. My daughter’s school just announced there would be no more in-person classes. It’s no longer a far off threat. And unfortunately, it’s probably going to get worse in January than it is now.