With hospitals scrambling and mortuaries filling up, Los Angeles County’s coronavirus infection tally doubled in a little over a month, officials said over the weekend.
After the first known coronavirus infection on Jan. 26, 2020, it took ten months for L.A. County to hit 400,000 recorded cases on Nov. 30.
But it took just over a month for the county to record the next 400,000 cases, topping 800,000 Saturday.
“This is the fastest acceleration of new cases than at any other time during the pandemic,” L.A. County Department of Public Health officials said.
While it is true that coronavirus testing has significantly ramped up compared to the early days of the pandemic when supplies were scarce, public health officials say more people are now being infected, falling ill and dying of COVID-19 in L.A. County — and it’s happening at an unprecedented rate.
State and local officials reacted to the new surge with a return to stricter restrictions — like banning outdoor dining at restaurants — and with pleas to avoid gatherings.
“The strategy for stopping the surge is fairly straightforward. When people stay away from other people, the virus cannot spread as it is doing now,” county Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said Saturday.
The county reported 12,488 new coronavirus cases and another 91 deaths attributed to COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the countywide total to 818,639 infections with 10,773 deaths.
There were 7,544 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday — 21% of them in intensive care units.
That means hundreds with COVID-19 have flooded into hospitals across the county in one week.
The surge is pushing all hospitals countywide to “the brink of catastrophe,” L.A. County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said Thursday.
“We are fearful, frankly, of what is to come in 2021,” she said.