COVID-19 overwhelms Los Angeles County hospitals

A worker disinfects a counter in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. Los Angeles County has been hard hit by the latest wave of the coronavirus. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Dec. 27 (UPI) — Southern California’s Los Angeles County hospitals overflowed with COVID-19 cases on Christmas Day.

More than 6,700 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Christmas Day in the county, according to the  Public Health department’s statement, and 20% of them were people in the intensive care unit.

The current number of hospitalizations is an increase from about 6,500 on Christmas Eve, which was four times the amount over the last month, and double the number of ICU patients from a month ago, The New York Times reported.

Amid the surge, the entire lobby of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital has been converted into space to treat patients, gurneys have been placed in the gift shop, and the waiting room is a tent outside, according to the newspaper.

On Thursday, the county reported 148 new deaths, which equated to about one every 10 minutes, the highest total amid the pandemic, according to The New York Times database.

Health care workers received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccine at Providence St. Mary Medical Center as Christmas music played, but intensive care nurse Lisa Thompson feared the next “code blue.”

“Every day is scary,” Thompson said. “We can’t even keep up with the amount of patients coming to the hospital.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom posted a video on Facebook projecting the number of people hospitalized could double in 30 days if current trends continue.

Over 678,040 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Los Angeles County and 9,305 people have died, representing the highest number of cases and deaths in one county, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Tracker showed Saturday. Another populous county, Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, has the second-highest county number of cases at 382,213 cases and second-highest number of deaths at 8,031.

On Christmas Eve, the state as a whole became the first in the nation to surpass 2 million COVID-19 cases, 44 days after recording 1 million cases on Nov. 11 as much of the state remains under stay-at-home order.

The state also reported Thursday a record 18,875 hospitalizations including another record with 3,962 patients in ICU units.

California currently has the highest rate of COVID-19 at 92.2 per 100,000 people in the country, followed by Tennessee, Arizona, and Alabama, among the top four highest rates, according to The New York Times database. South Dakota currently has the highest COVID-19 death rate at 1.6 per 100,000 in the country, followed by Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Iowa.

New York still has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, at 36,739 deaths, followed by Texas at 27,042 deaths, California at 23,993 deaths and Florida at 20,994 deaths.

The United States had 105,906 new cases of COVID-19 across the country and 1,223 new deaths Friday, Johns Hopkins data shows.

The United States has the highest number of cases and the highest number of deaths of any country worldwide at more than 18.9 million cases and more than 330,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins global tracker.

Public health experts are bracing for another surge from Christmas and the upcoming New Year’s holidays.

“We’ve just seen these amplification events, and that’s what happened at the end of this year in the U.S.,” said Erin Bromage, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth associate professor of biology.

“We have Thanksgiving, we had Labor Day, we had Halloween, and each one of these events brought lots of people together and just gave the virus more fuel to move through the population,” Bromage added. “Christmas is going to do a similar thing.”


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