patient Ofelia Reynoso had been careful, she told CBS News' Tom Hanson, and she never expected to be gasping for breath, laboring for each word.
However, Reynoso is still lucky — hospital beds are in short supply in Los Angeles, where she is being treated.
"Mobile mortuaries" have already been set up outside hospitals in Los Angeles County, where a person dies of coronavirus every eight minutes, the county said this week on Twitter.
The number is up from the one death, county health officials announced just two weeks prior.
Even as military teams are now helping some overwhelmed hospitals, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shared a warning that care may soon have to be rationed. Garcetti appealed to health care professionals across the country during an appearance on CNN Thursday, addressing the dire situation.
"Just as we sent doctors from California to places like New York when there was that surge, I'm asking for folks across America, if you can spare a doctor or a nurse, if you can spare anything, please send it here," he said.
California is one of at least eight states where the highly contagious variant first detected in the United Kingdom has been found.
Across the United States, more than 283,000 new infections were reported Friday. More than 3,500 people died, down from Thursday's record-shattering 4,000 single-day deaths.
It seems help is on the way, however, as the number of people who received their first vaccination doubled this week, with 6 millionas of Friday.
President-elect Biden pledged tothe slow rollout effort, saying he would release nearly all available doses of the vaccine when he takes office later in January.
And despite concerns over the new strain, drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna report they are confident their COVID-19 vaccines will hold up against it.