The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) confirmed 75 new deaths and 9,243 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This is the highest number of daily deaths since July 29.
On Tuesday, the county surpassed the tragic milestone of 8,000 total deaths from the coronavirus.
“Over 8,000 people who are beloved members of their families are not coming back and their deaths are an incalculable loss to their friends and family as well as to our community,” a noticeably choked up Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health, said as she struggled for composure.
L.A. County continues to experience more new cases reported each day for COVID-19 than at any point during the pandemic. This past week and a half, cases increased from an average of about 4,900 new cases each day the last week in November, to an average of more than 9,000 daily cases.
Testing results are available for nearly 3,985,000 individuals with 11% of all people testing positive. The county’s daily test positivity rate has increased significantly. From early November through Nov. 29, the test positivity rate increased three-fold from around 3.5% to just over 9%. Wednesday’s test positivity rate was 12.5%.
The surge in cases, which began around Nov. 2 led to an increase in hospitalizations starting around Nov. 9 and then, tragically, the start of an increase in deaths beginning around Nov. 15.
There are 3,299 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 23% of these people are in the ICU. The number of daily hospitalizations has increased over 400% from Nov. 1 when the daily number of people hospitalized was 791.
Since Nov. 9, average daily deaths have increased 258%, from 12 average deaths per day to 43 this week. Since these deaths reflect L.A. County case counts from a month ago, as cases have continued to increase the past few weeks, health officials expect a significant rise in the number of people who are dying.
“Where we are, and where we are headed, is quite alarming,” Ferrer said.
The state reports the Southern California regional ICU bed capacity is currently 9%. The Southern California region, which includes L.A. County, is under the state stay-at-home order because the ICU capacity for the region fell below 15%. The order has been updated with changes affecting playgrounds and grocery stores.
Under the order, the following sectors are closed:
- Wineries, breweries, distilleries.
- Museums, botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums.
- Personal care including hair salons, barbershops, and nail salons.
- Family entertainment centers.
The following activities are permitted with safety modifications including required mask wearing and distancing:
- Standalone grocery stores can now have 35% occupancy under the new updates.
- Retail stores and shopping centers (at 20% occupancy).
- Restaurants for takeout and delivery only.
- Parks and trails.
- Outdoor gyms.
- Libraries (at 20% occupancy).
- Playgrounds can now open under the new updates.
- Schools and childcare.
All government and critical infrastructure sectors are open as are all healthcare facilities and services operating under strict infection control requirements; officials encourage residents to not delay seeking needed health or dental care.
While youth sport teams are permitted to hold conditioning and skill building for team members during the stay-at-home orders, any team activities involving more than individual training, conditioning or skill building must be cancelled. Sport teams are only allowed to include activities that involve no contact, little or no sharing of equipment, players/coaches are always able to remain at least 6 feet apart from others, and everyone wears a mask. Practices and games are absolutely prohibited at this time.
“This is a most dangerous time for L.A. County, and I ask everyone to please be extremely careful and diligent in protecting yourself and other people,” Ferrer said in a statement released by Public Health. “When there are tens of thousands of infected people out and about each day, there is a significant increase in the probability that among the many encounters each individual has during the day, one or more of these will be with a person infected with the virus.”
Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly echoed the warning, saying that as many as one in every 100 county residents is infectious.
“Nearly two-thirds of all infections are caused by individuals who at that time, have no symptoms and appear fine,” Ghaly said Wednesday. “Please realize how risky even basic activities and basic interactions with others are. Things that were safe one month ago, or two months ago, now are much higher risk and are not safe.”
The San Gabriel Valley and South Los Angeles County have the majority of communities that have experienced the highest rate increases. The communities in L.A. County that are seeing the largest increases in cases during this surge are the City of Rosemead, Century Palms/Cove area and Lennox area are all experiencing case rate increases of over 400%.
As the pandemic continues, many people are experiencing a great deal of stress and difficulty. If you are feeling overwhelmed, know that help is available. The Department of Mental Health’s Help Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can provide you with referrals for mental health and wellness services. Also, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, you can access the Emotional Support Warm Line with Trained Active Listeners to talk to. The phone number to access all these services is (800) 854-7771.