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A steep rise in people being hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County likely signals the approach of a wave of extremely sick patients that could overwhelm hospitals in the coming weeksexperts say.

As of March 6, five people in the county had been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19. Two weeks later, on Friday, that figure had jumped to 48. By Monday, the total had climbed to 90.

Though the raw numbers remain relatively low, the rate of increase has set many doctors and nurses on edge after watching the disease’s alarming trajectory in China, Italy and now New York City.

Medical providers in L.A. County say they have noticed a steady flow of COVID-19 patients into their ERs in recent days and are rushing to draft policies to handle the tough decisions they anticipate making in the coming weeks as the outbreak surges and they contend with a limited number of beds, equipment and staff.

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