LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County on Saturday reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day since April 2, 2021, raising its overall death toll to more than 28,000 in the county since the pandemic began.

The Department of Health reported 66 deaths and 41,765 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, for a total case count of more than 2.2 million in the state’s most populous county.

“As deaths often lag behind surges in cases and hospitalizations, sadly, the increase in deaths does not come as a surprise and tragically, we are prepared for even higher number of deaths in the coming weeks,” the county’s public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

There are 4,386 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in LA County, the department said. Statewide, COVID hospitalizations have topped 13,000, more than double the total two weeks ago, and total deaths have increased to 76,940.

Since the arrival of the highly transmissible omicron variant, California has seen soaring coronavirus cases, with more than one in five tests coming back positive in the past week.

The trend is expected to push California’s total hospitalizations well above the peak of 54,000 recorded during last winter’s deadly surge, said Carmela Coyle, president and chief executive of the California Hospital Association. She said 51,000 people were hospitalized as of Friday, and the surge is not expected to let up until the end of the month.

The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, however, early studies show it is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, and vaccination and a booster still offer strong protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

“With unvaccinated individuals 22 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those fully vaccinated, residents should not delay getting vaccinated and boosted as these measures are saving lives,” she said.