‘Worst day thus far’: L.A. County COVID-19 hospitalizations hit peak, daily new cases reach record high of 7,600

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More people were battling COVID-19 in Los Angeles County hospitals Tuesday than on any other day during the pandemic, as health officials reported a record 7,593 new cases.

The number of cases reported Tuesday shatters the record 6,124 new cases seen Nov. 23. It shows that the virus is spreading among Angelenos faster than ever before, the county public health department said in a news release.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer called Tuesday “the worst day thus far” of the pandemic for L.A. County.

“However, it will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County,” she added. “That will be tomorrow, and the next day and the next as cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase.”

The 2,316 people hospitalized with COVID-19 Tuesday surpasses the previous peak of 2,232 people reached during the July surge. Of those currently hospitalized, 24% are in intensive care, officials said.

The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals has been rising steadily since Nov. 1, when there were just shy of 800 people hospitalized.

And since just last week, the county’s testing positivity rate has increased from 7% to 12%, according to the health department.

The county also reported 46 additional COVID-19 fatalities Tuesday. That raises the total to 7,700 deaths recorded since the pandemic began, with nearly 408,400 positive cases.

The ominous records set Tuesday come a day after the county’s new “safer-at-home” order went into effect, banning most gatherings and advising residents to stay home “as much as possible.”

Indoor retail businesses, including nail salons and other personal care services, can stay open but at 20% of capacity. Stores considered essential can operate at 35% capacity.

Restaurants in the county were ordered to close for dining last week, but they’re still allowed to offer takeout and delivery.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned the state could run out of intensive care beds by mid-December if the surge continues at its current rate. He said he’s considering “drastic action” like a renewed stay-home order if the situation doesn’t improve.

“Bottom line is we are looking at intensive care unit capacity as the primary trigger for deeper, more restrictive actions,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services.

In L.A. County, health officials say we’ll have to wait another few weeks to see the effects of the Thanksgiving holiday — a concern considering how quickly the county’s figures are already growing.

Two weeks after that, officials will see the impact on the hospital system, and by early to mid January, deaths will either increase or decrease.

Ferrer called a possible Thanksgiving surge on top of the current surge “the worst scenario.”

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