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Worried Los Angeles County health leaders said Wednesday that the region was rapidly losing its battle against COVID-19 as the virus spread unchecked, adding that only immediate and decisive changes in behavior can prevent a steep rise in deaths as a post-holiday surge hits and hospitals can’t treat all who are sick.

“Today, I’m more troubled than ever before,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

“This is a health crisis of epic proportions and we need everyone — I mean everyone — to use the tools right in front of them to help us drive down transmission of this deadly virus.”

Southern California and much of the state are under a stay-at-home order, which officials believe has made a difference but was no match for holiday travel, gatherings and social events.

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