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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Worst days of pandemic ‘in our future’

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

During the holiday week, community spread of the coronavirus reached a record pace in Los Angeles County with hospitalizations, and tragically deaths, on the rise.

In its first news briefing of the new year, county public health officials gave a dire warning that, as bad as the current outbreak may appear, the next few weeks are likely to be a lot worse.

“The worst is almost certainly in front of us,” Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “We do not believe that we are yet seeing the effects of the Christmas holiday. This is unfortunately in our future.”

During Monday’s news conference Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angels County Department of Public Health, said that although it took nine and half months to reach 400,000 cumulative cases in the county, the current surge is so severe that cases have more than doubled in December, surpassing 800,000.

“Assume that this deadly virus is everywhere looking for a host,” Ms. Ferrer said, noting one in five people test positive.

As cases rise that trend is followed by increased hospitalizations and death for far too many people. As of Monday 7,697 people are currently hospitalized in L.A. County with COVID-19 symptoms, 21 percent of whom are in intensive care. An average of 791 people are hospitalized with the virus each day.

“The high number of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals is distressing not only for those who have COVID-19, but for all others in the county who need acute care during this time. People who have a stroke or heart attack or who experience a traumatic injury from a car crash are finding it more difficult to access care,” county health officials said in a statement.

The county reported 77 deaths and 9,142 new cases on Monday, but due to a reporting lag over the holiday weekend, those numbers are artificially low. To date, public health identified 827,498 cumulative cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and 10,850 deaths. 

“On average, a person passes away every 15 minutes in L.A. County. We may be on our way to weekly death tolls of 1,000 or more,” Ms. Ferrer said.

She beseeched everyone listening to stay at home if they are able and to only go out for the most necessary supplies or medical needs. Ms. Ferrer urged people to take a break from shopping, not to have a meals with people outside their immediate households and to exercise alone.

In Claremont, the numbers have increased dramatically over the holidays. On December 24, the last time the COURIER reported on the local outbreak, the city’s cumulative total was 1,206 cases and 19 deaths. On Monday the county reported 1,549 cumulative cases and a 22 percent increase in 11 days. Tragically, Claremont now has 25 deaths.

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