Months into a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 L.A. County residents as of Saturday, the surge in the numbers of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths continues to accelerate.
In just four days, more than 1,000 people died of COVID-19 in L.A. County.
In the past week, about 100,000 people tested positive for the virus.
“The speed with which we are reaching grim milestones of COVID-19 deaths and cases is a devastating reflection of the immense spread that is occurring across the County,” L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “And this accelerated spread reflects the many unsafe actions individuals took over holidays.”
A record-breaking 318 new coronavirus deaths were reported in L.A. County Friday. To put the number in perspective, there are about 170 deaths per day in the county from all other causes combined.
Private mortuaries are struggling to find room for bodies and it’s straining hospital morgues. Refrigerated storage units were parked outside the L.A. County coroner’s office, with members of the California National Guard arriving to help.
Ferrer blamed the skyrocketing infection numbers at least partly on holiday travel and gatherings.
“The travel and inter-mingling with non-household members made it much easier for transmission of the virus,” the health director said. “As a result, there is so much more risk when engaging in any activity that has you exposed to people outside your household.”
Hospitals are overwhelmed and the state desperately needs more medical workers to keep up with the flood of COVID-19 patients.
There were 7,966 people with COVID-19 hospitalized across L.A. County Saturday — 22% of them in intensive care units. And across the Southern California region, intensive care units remain at 0% available capacity.
L.A. County reported 221 new COVID-19 deaths and another 16,982 coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the countywide total to 906,171 infections and 12,084 deaths.
“The best way to protect ourselves, slow the spread, and stop overwhelming our hospitals, is to pause participating in any activities that aren’t absolutely essential,” Ferrer said. “This is just not the time to go to the shopping mall or to a friend’s house to watch a basketball or football game.”