World Events

Los Angeles County is on track for “catastrophic suffering and death,” health director warns

Health care administers COVID-19 tests at Long Beach City College-Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach, California, on Wednesday, December 9. Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Los Angeles County has recorded a record number of new Covid-19 cases for a second straight day, raising the total number of residents in the nation’s most populous county who have tested positive to more than a half-million, in what health officials called “uncharted territory.”

“We’re on a very dangerous track to see unprecedented and catastrophic suffering and death here in L.A. County if we can’t stop the surge,” Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 13,815 new cases of Covid-19 Friday, raising the countywide total to 501,635 cases. Another 50 deaths linked to complications from the coronavirus were also reported, for a total of 8,199 fatalities.

“These numbers are overwhelming,” Ferrer said. “We have doubled the number of new cases in about 10 days.”

Los Angeles County reported 12,819 cases Thursday, the previous record high in a dramatic surge of new infections sending a rising number of new patients to hospitals.

Ferrer warned the unprecedented number of new cases in Los Angeles County is putting “extraordinary stress” on the health care system, and pleaded with the public to “stay home as much as possible.

Covid-19 restrictions: L.A. County’s 10 million residents are under a nightly curfew and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order after the region’s intensive care unit capacity plunged below 15% and continues to quickly dwindle.

In Southern California, just 6.2% ICU capacity remained Friday. The dire situation comes just days before the county expects to receive an initial shipment of 82,875 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine early next week.

“I want to sound an alarm that we’ve been sounding for the last month,” Ferrer said. “In L.A. County we’re in uncharted territory at this point. We’re seeing daily numbers of cases and hospitalizations that we have not experienced and frankly did not anticipate.”

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