"The Most Dangerous Time" – L.A. County Health Officials Warn Of Another COVID-19 Surge On The Horizon
COVID-19 cases have increased over 250% in the past month and daily hospitalizations have surpassed 3,000. Still, health officials predict that the worst is yet to come.
“Over 8,000 people who were beloved members of their families, are not coming back.” L.A. County Director of Public Health, Barbara Ferrer, said Wednesday afternoon, after choking up briefly during a press conference. “Their deaths are an incalculable loss to their friends and their family as well as our community.”
On Wednesday, L.A. County reported over 9,200 new cases and 75 new deaths related to COVID-19.
Over the past week the county has average 9,000 new COVID-10 cases per day and in the past month, the number of cases has risen over 250 percent. But yesterday, health officials cautioned that the health situation could get worse in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week hospitalization crossed the 3,000 threshold, a first in the pandemic. And public health officials warned that we could see daily hospitalizations exceed 4,000 before the new year.
At the beginning of the week, Ferrer said that there were a “short list” of hospitals in the county that had already reached capacity. Hospitalizations, which many health professionals say is a key metric in understanding the severity of the pandemic, have increased three-fold in the past month.
Currently, L.A County is seeing roughly 500 people hospitalized for COVID-19 every day. And yesterday, health officials warned that number could hit 700 in just a week.
“This is the most dangerous time for L.A. County.” L.A. County Director of Public Health, Dr. Ferrer, said on Wednesday.
While mortality rates have gone down since the start of the pandemic, health officials warned this week that as cases go up, so will hospilitizations and eventually deaths. Dr. Ferrer called deaths, “a lagging indicator,” on Monday during a press conference with the media.
According to Dr. Ferrer, the most recent surge in cases began around Election Day, which led to an increase in hospitalization on November 9, and deaths beginning on November 15. Hospital emergency rooms are inundated to the point where the majority of them have begun diverting patients to hospitals with more capacity this week.
Communities of color have been especially hit hard by the recent surge in cases. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said on Wednesday, “if you’re Latinx, Black or native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander” then you have a higher risk of being infected with COVID-19 and being hospitalized. “The reality is that low income communities of color are at higher risk.” In the past several weeks, Unincorporated - Lennox and The City of Rosemead saw more than a 450% increase in COVID-19 cases. According to census data, Lennox is over 90% Latinx and Rosemead is over 60% Asian.
But good news is also looming on the horizon. A limited number of vaccines could arrive as early as this week. “Health care workers are exhausted and in many cases sick,” Supervisor Solis said Wednesday. Over 1,700 health care workers tested positive for COVID-19 this week, more than double the amount of cases from the previous week.
On Wednesday, before going over the most up to date COVID-19 numbers, Dr. Ferrer offered a simple message to everyone: “Please follow the health officer orders for the next three weeks. Everyone should stay home as much as possible in next 3 weeks.”
Lexis-Olivier Ray is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles as well as a regular contributor to L.A Taco, an award winning daily news publication known for its street-level reporting.
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