With more 10,500 infections reported Sunday alone, Los Angeles County shattered its coronavirus one-day case record just as the region’s residents prepared to hunker down with new restrictions meant to slow the rapid spread of the virus.
The alarming increase of 10,528 cases comes after the county surpassed all-time highs for COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers nearly every day this week, according to L.A. County Department of Public Health data.
“If we all can’t get behind the existing directives to stay home as much as possible and avoid all non-essential activities and places where you are likely to be in contact with non-household members, we are likely to bear witness to one of the worst healthcare crises our county has seen in our lifetime,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said this weekend.
The previous daily case record in L.A. County was 8,948 infections reported Saturday.
There were 2,855 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the county Sunday, another all-time high. About 23% of the patients were battling the virus in intensive care units.
The worrisome new peak in hospitalization rates comes as the 11-county Southern California Region, including L.A., is about to begin a new state-mandated stay-at-home order that was triggered when ICU bed capacity dropped below 15%.
Across the region’s hospitals, just 10.3% of staffed adult ICU beds were available Sunday — down from 12.5% the day before.
The new restrictions, which include suspending in-person dining and closing playgrounds, hair salons, movie theaters and other businesses, is the latest attempt by the state to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by a flood of people battling the infectious illness.
As officials grapple with how to stem the quickly-accelerating coronavirus surge, the health department urged residents to comply with the state’s order.
“The reality is we can still prevent the continued increases in people suffering and dying if we focus all of our collective will on doing what we know how to do; this is the time to take care of each other, and to always wear a face covering and keep a physical distance of at least 6-feet when outside and around others,” Ferrer said.
On Friday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti called COVID-19 “the greatest threat to life in Los Angeles that we have ever faced.”
While there’s been increased demand for coronavirus testing across the county, Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis this week said it’s “human behavior” that is mainly what’s fueling the county’s troubling new coronavirus surge, one that is climbing at an unprecedented rate.
“Are the spikes in COVID-19 cases due to more testing? No. During a surge, the actual number of people getting sick with COVID-19 is increasing,” Davis said. “This is why we can’t relax. The faster we can reduce the transmission rate, the faster we can recover from this third wave of COVID-19 cases.”