As nearly 3,000 patients were battling the coronavirus in Los Angeles County on Monday, officials pleaded with the public to “change our actions today” to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
The county reported 8,086 new coronavirus cases and 27 additional deaths at the start of the week; however, the number of deaths on Monday tend to be lower because of a lag in weekend reporting, officials noted. The county has set new records every day since Dec. 1, but Sunday’s 10,528 new cases of the virus shattered any previous records.
“These daily case numbers are unlike anything we have ever seen and explain why the activities we were able to do just a few weeks ago now presents just way too much risk for virus transmission,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a press briefing on Monday.
There are 2,988 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, with 24% in the intensive care unit and 15% on ventilators. Health officials said it’s possible that within two weeks or less, the number of people hospitalized could be at or over 4,000 a day on average.
A week after hospitalizations reach the 4,000 mark, Ferrer said the average number of deaths could grow to 65 people every day.
“Because of these distressing surges in cases, we know that we can expect in the weeks following alarming increases in hospitalizations and deaths,” Ferrer said.
And adding to the increasing concern of case rates, deaths and hospital capacity, is the amount of coronavirus cases being reported among health care workers.
This past week more than 1,745 cases of COVID-19 were reported among health care workers, which is more than twice the amount reported the week before and is the highest weekly number of cases ever seen among those working in health care.
“The biggest issue I think we face as a county is not around having a physical bed, but around having the staff to support those beds,” Ferrer said. ” So the strategy really is to protect the hospitals we have to get community transmission down.”
Ferrer said residents need to start “getting back into the game” and take the stay-at-home order that went into effect on Sunday night extremely serious. Under the new rules, private gatherings of any size are prohibited and people must wear a mask anytime they go outside.
All on-site restaurant dining is banned, bars, wineries, hair and nail salons, movie theaters , playgrounds, museums and many other businesses are closed. Retail businesses must limit capacity to 20% and have social distancing measures in place.
Ferrer said if people follow the new restrictions which are in place for the at least three weeks and meant to put a “pause” on all non-essential activities, the county will have the chance to get the surge under control.
“The most important action we can take is to stop the surge by staying at home as much as possible,” Ferrer added. “Please, as we watch these numbers go up to levels we have never seen in L.A. County, I do ask everyone to make it their mission to do their part to prevent further transmission of the virus.”
More than 3.9 million people have been tested for the coronavirus countywide with Monday’s positivity rate rising to 11.6 %. Just last month, on Nov. 7, the county’s positivity rate was at 5%.