2 weeks after Thanksgiving, L.A. County sees another record-breaking day of new COVID-19 cases

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In this Dec. 7, 2020, photo, people wait in line for COVID-19 testing at a site operated by CORE in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

A staggering 12,819 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Los Angeles County on Thursday, setting yet another record just two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday, which public health officials warned could lead to a surge in virus transmission.

The alarming increase reported on Thursday brings the total number of positive cases to 487,917 countywide, according to the county’s Department of Public Health.

Thursday’s record case count surpassed the previous high reached Sunday, when the county experienced 10,528 new COVID-19 cases, the department said. Before that, the previous record was set Saturday, with 8,948 new infections.

“We are two weeks out from Thanksgiving, and we are witnessing the devastating impact of the actions people took over the holiday,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “We are running a risk that could have catastrophic consequences, with hospitals becoming overwhelmed and severely ill patients not able to get the care they need.”

There were 74 new deaths reported Thursday, brining the total number of people who have died from the illness in L.A. County to 8,149. The first virus-related death of a child was also reported this week, from multisystem inflammatory syndrome, known as MIS-C.

Ferrer broke down in tears Wednesday as she spoke about the devastating toll the COVID-19 surge has had on the region.

“We are about to bear witness to a significant rise in the number of people who are dying,” she said, calling this is the “most dangerous time for L.A. County.”

The county continues to experience high numbers of new deaths and unprecedented new COVID-19 cases each day — more than at any point during the pandemic, health officials said Thursday.

In the past two days, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by more than 300, with 3,433 people currently hospitalized, 23% of whom are in intensive care units.

“Like a speeding car approaching a cliff, if we do not rapidly change course, we are in jeopardy of catastrophic consequences because [of] our hospitals being overwhelmed and severely ill patients not able to get the care they need,” said Dr. Paul Simon, the county’s chief science officer. “Right now at this very dangerous time, people need to stay home at all times, if possible.”

The high hospitalization rate comes as the 11-county Southern California Region, including L.A., entered a new state-mandated stay-at-home order this week, triggered by ICU bed capacity dropping below 15%.

On Thursday, a U.S. government advisory panel endorsed the large-scale use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for Federal Drug Administration clearance and the start of vaccinations throughout the country. L.A. County could receive approximately 83,000 doses of the vaccine as early as this weekend, officials said.

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