“To date, 1 in 3 people in Los Angeles County have been infected with the virus,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday.
The county estimates that a third of the county’s 10 million people have been infected with the virus at some point since the start of the pandemic. This is equivalent to more than triple the number of infections that have been confirmed by testing in the county so far.
In light of this, the mayor said, local officials were closely monitoring any increase in the number of cases.
“County supervisors are trying… to determine if there should be any more closures,” Garcetti said. “I think those are the obvious categories: whether schools stay open or not, indoor gymnasiums, public youth leagues.”
Los Angeles Covid-19 update: Workplace outbreaks skyrocket as health officials warn,
“If there are other closures coming up, it’s the result of something like we are seeing another outbreak due to the spread of something like the UK variant.”
Likewise, said Garcetti, “If things continue to deteriorate a bit or deteriorate even more quickly, maybe more closures are not needed. But the moment it goes up like we saw in December at a rate like that, absolutely. This is something that we cannot support and most importantly our hospitals cannot and we would go into crisis mode there.
Speaking of which, another 17,323 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in LA County on Thursday. That represents an 18% increase in 24 hours, bringing the total number of lives lost to the virus to 975,299 and bringing the county closer to the million mark.
The death toll from COVID-19 has continued to climb relentlessly in Los Angeles, with around 1,700 deaths from the virus confirmed in the past week alone. The last three days alone have seen nearly 900 dead in the region.
The county public health department on Thursday announced 287 more deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths during the pandemic to 13,234. Health officials earlier noted that around 170 people die each day. in the county of all other causes combined.
As of last Thursday, the county has reported 1,689 new deaths, which equates to an average of one death every six minutes.
Daily COVID-19 Update:
January 14, 2021
New cases: 17323 (975299 to date)
New deaths: 287 (13,234 to date)
Current hospitalizations: 7,906 pic.twitter.com/koNNoWkzhJ
– LA Public health (@lapublichealth) January 15, 2021
Infections and deaths have skyrocketed in the county since November, fueled by public gatherings held in violation of health restrictions, workplace outbreaks and Thanksgiving holiday gatherings. The effect of the Christmas and New Years gatherings is starting to be felt in the number of infections, and these cases are expected to translate into more hospitalizations soon.
In the meantime, however, the number of people hospitalized in the county due to Covid has actually declined.
County officials on Thursday reported a total of 7,906 people hospitalized in the county with Covid-19, below the 8,000 patients reported most of last week. The number of patients in intensive care unit beds has also declined, but not so dramatically. As of Thursday, 1,699 intensive care patients were being treated for Covid. This does not include the demand for intensive care from all other causes. The county has a total of approximately 2,500 licensed intensive care beds.
The county health services department on Thursday reported a total of 570 non-ICU hospital beds available and only 42 adult ICU beds available. Last week, on average, 80% of the county’s intensive care patients were treated for Covid-19, along with 54% of non-intensive care patients.
County Health Services Director Dr Christina Ghaly on Wednesday urged people not to be fooled by the recent stabilization in hospital numbers.
“While the numbers have peaked at that number just below 8,000, they have stabilized at a rate that is really unsustainable,” Ghaly said.
“This high plateau does not leave enough beds open to treat patients without Covid. And that still doesn’t allow us to prepare for an additional attack of patients who could present themselves over the next two weeks in a possible post-vacation flare.
Ghaly said county hospitals have yet to start seeing results from the rallies and virus transmission that likely occurred over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“Even as the slight decline continues, we are far from being in the clear in the LA County hospital system,” she said. “Hospitals cannot maintain the high level of beds occupied by Covid patients.”
She added, “For there to be meaningful relief for health care providers, we need a rapid and significant drop in hospitalizations for a period of one to two months. Please don’t let this current number of daily hospitalizations seem normal just because it’s leveling off. “
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has warned the county may also soon see an increase in the number of infections thanks to a highly contagious new variant of the virus first discovered in the UK.
This variant has not yet been officially identified in Los Angeles County. But Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has warned the variant is likely already there and just hasn’t been detected in the relatively limited number of tests being done looking for the new strain.
“According to the latest scientific data available, the UK variant doesn’t make people sicker, but it is more transmissible, which means it can be spread more easily,” Ferrer said on Wednesday. “Current expert projections predict that if left unchecked, this variant could dominate locally by March.”
With the variant’s ability to move quickly from person to person, it could quickly increase the number of infections, inevitably leading to more hospitalizations and ultimately more deaths, Ferrer said. She said people should continue to take all necessary precautions, not ruling out the need to
stricter regulations to control the spread.
“We should be prepared to do more if cases remain high,” she said.
“The work ahead requires us to take all necessary measures to reduce transmission.”
According to estimates released by the county health services department on Wednesday, the transmission rate of COVID-19 – the number of people a Covid patient infects with the virus – hovers around 0.97. Each time the rate is equal to or greater than 1, the cases should increase.
County modeling also estimates that around 1 in 115 residents who are not hospitalized or quarantined are infected with the virus and able to pass it on to others.
Ferrer noted that the average daily new cases in the county have increased 1,092% since November, average daily deaths are up 1,133% and hospitalizations are up 875%.
City News Service contributed to this report.