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Los Angeles County’s Deadliest Day for COVID-19: More Than 300 Deaths

Los Angeles County reported more than 300 new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, its highest one-day total to date.

According to preliminary, incomplete numbers issued by local health jurisdictions, the county has seen at least 309 additional deaths – a figure that will easily surpass the previous peak of 291 recorded on New Year’s Eve.

The self-report broke on the one-year anniversary when the county issued its first coronavirus health report.

Over a 12-month period, this warning, called “an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, China,”

; has become “the most significant infectious disease” of the last century, said Dr. Paul Simon, chief scientific officer for the Ministry of public health in Los Angeles County.

“The scale of the tragedy associated with this pandemic is incomprehensible, especially since so much of it is preventable,” he said during a briefing on Friday.

Accumulated, Los Angeles County has reported at least 889,000 coronavirus cases and at least 11,800 deaths. More than half a million coronavirus cases and more than 4,300 of these deaths have been reported since Thanksgiving.

And given what happened last holiday season, Simon said, “We expect the number of hospitalizations and deaths to remain high throughout this month.”

The leader of a trade group representing California hospitals said on Friday that the peak of the current wave is expected to sink into the state’s health system, starting in about a week.

Although hospitals in the state are already struggling with record numbers of COVID-19 patients, “we expect the worst of it to hit in another week or 10 days and could continue in February,” said Carmela Coyle, president and chief executive of California Hospital Assn.

“This is unprecedented for our country, unprecedented for the nation, unprecedented for the world,” she said during a conference call. “But we find ourselves today, in terms of numbers, as we stand on the beach and watch the tsunami approach.”

California is currently adding an average of just under 40,000 new cases of coronavirus each day – a rate that has increased recently but is still massive and has just as great consequences.

Government officials said about 12% of people diagnosed with coronavirus infections would need to be hospitalized. If this calculation turns out to be true, then approximately 278,000 cases confirmed nationwide after the New Year will eventually end up with about 33,000 Californians in hospitals in the coming weeks.

As for the impact of COVID-19 on the hospital system, “the story was written weeks before, and that’s the latency between the spread of the virus and the infection and the need for acute care,” Coyle said.

“We were all hoping to start seeing some deviation in those numbers,” she said. “This is not so.”

Health officials have long pointed out that the progression of the pandemic is predictable and inevitable. People become infected with the virus, and within approximately two weeks, some become ill enough to require hospitalization. Shortly afterwards, the condition of some patients will worsen to such an extent that they need intensive treatment and some of them will die.

The lagging nature of the disease progression means that it takes weeks to make full assessments of the consequences of the actions of residents and businesses. It also takes weeks to renew personal vigilance or newly imposed restrictions to start showing results.

Health officials said the current influx of currency in California began around Nov. 1, but started an overdrive in early December – fueled by travel and gatherings during Thanksgiving.

There are real concerns that such a model is about to hit the state after the winter holiday season.

While hospital populations change regularly when new patients arrive and existing ones are discharged or die, California’s health care system is already strained by the relentless tide and fears it will be difficult to handle more.

As of Thursday, the most recent day for which full data are available, 21,855 coronavirus-positive patients were hospitalized in California, with 4,812 in intensive care.

Although the number of patients is no longer increasing at the rate it was weeks ago, and has actually fluctuated slightly in recent days, it has still increased by 15% since Christmas. More patients with COVID-19 also need intensive treatment.

As the number of newly infected Californians remains high, no short-term relief is seen.

“We are expecting another 15,000 people who need inpatient care,” Coyle said. “It’s a difficult situation. It’s tight. And it’s tense. ”

If transmission is not controlled, hospitals in Los Angeles County and the state will continue to be overwhelmed by patients with COVID-19.

In Los Angeles County, hospitalizations have stabilized in large numbers, ranging from 7,900 to 8,100 Monday through Thursday. While the county recently avoided some of the steep growth rates seen earlier by the wave, officials warned that this level of hospitalizations is unsustainable after the health system has already sunk into crisis, created a shortage of available ambulances and forced patients to wait hours for beds to open.

Another leap, officials said, could potentially force hospitals to take care of rations if resources and staff are too scarce.

“I think it’s hard for many of us to connect with what our nurses, doctors and other hospital managers are doing right now,” Coyle said. “There is no doubt that in some parts of the state, people who have dedicated their lives to care and treatment see things they never expected to see before.”

So many people are dying from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County that government officials are now planning to set up temporary morgues to help deal with the number of bodies.

The move was announced by the California governor’s office on Thursday – the same day Los Angeles County announced 205 new deaths from COVID-19 and for the third day in a row more than 200 angels died in the pandemic.

An average of 171 cases of COVID-19 a day were killed in Los Angeles County last week, and officials warned that tolls would continue to rise unless the region could contain the raging coronavirus.

“We’ve lost too many lives on COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, and unfortunately we will continue to lose more until we can get everyone to work together to break the transmission chain,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week. .

Government officials said a temporary morgue would be located in a parking lot next to the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office and would include at least a dozen 53-foot trailers delivered by the county and Cal OES, as well as other refrigerated storage containers.

Cal OES also facilitated the distribution of 88 additional refrigerated trailers – 10 of which were designed to serve as temporary morgues and were shipped to locations in Los Angeles, Imperial, Sonoma, San Bernardino and Monterey counties, the office said in a statement.

These resources will help “ensure that we do not receive large backups, or if we have backups, they are handled [with] respect and dignity [and] that we have the appropriate equipment or materials that investigators and medical experts need to deal effectively with heirs, ”said Cal OES Director Mark Gilarducci in a statement.

The actions of the state are the latest attempts to alleviate the pressure on applications in hospitals and private morgues, which are left without a place to store the bodies of victims of COVID-19.

Last week, officials said the California National Guard had been called in to help county workers as the corpses of hospital applications were moved to a warehouse in the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office.

More than 28,000 Californians died from COVID-19 during the pandemic – and tolls are rising rapidly.

The state has averaged 368 deaths a day in the past week, up 45 percent from two weeks ago, according to data collected by The Times.

As of Christmas, nearly 4,600 people across the country have died from COVID-19.

Los Angeles County has been hit particularly hard. The county’s 11,500 coronavirus deaths make up 40 percent of California’s total, even though the county accounts for only a quarter of the state’s population.

The next highest death toll was 2,189 in Riverside County. In the past week, an average of 204 people have died each day from COVID-19 in the county.

Los Angeles County registered its fourth highest number of daily cases of new coronaviruses on Thursday with 18,764, according to Times from local health courts. That’s well above the daily average for the last week of about 14,000.

California posted just under 40,000 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, continuing the trend over the past week, which shows that the overall daily overall leveling around that level. That’s slightly less than the peak in mid-December, when California reported 45,000 new cases a day.

However, officials warned that the percentage of cases still remained too high to provide any real relief.

“I don’t believe this is a new plateau that will automatically descend,” El Eric Garcetti mayor said on Thursday. “In fact, I believe that this is just a break before a new peak, caused by the evidence we see of too much movement happening around Christmas and New Year. So wait, because things can get worse. ”

About one in five coronavirus tests performed daily in Los Angeles County returns a positive, staggering percentage that highlights how many people are infected – and contagious.

“We have the power to control this virus if we decide to do it, and it’s really up to us,” said Dr. Christina Galli, county health director, this week.

But the worst, as Garsetti predicted, is likely to come. Most people in Los Angeles County hospitals for COVID-19 are infected before Christmas. Only after the next week, experts say, it becomes clear how much worse the post-holiday excitement can be.

At this point, officials and experts say the best way to protect Californians from the coronavirus is to stay home as long as possible. If you decide to go outside, it is important to wear a face blanket and keep a physical distance from people outside your household, authorities say.

Ferrer said that “we cannot stress enough that at this point we need to find our way to actually change the trajectory we are following.”

“There really is no way to help our hospitals unless we reduce the number of cases. “It’s just not there,” she said. “The large number of cases automatically turns into a large number of people who need hospital care.”

Times writers Iris Lee and Lila Seidman contributed to this report.

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