L.A. County issues dire warning amid ‘alarming increases’ in coronavirus cases

Los Angeles County health officials issued a dire warning Monday that conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic are deteriorating rapidly and the highly contagious virus is spreading swiftly in the nation’s most populous county.

They said they are now faced with one of their biggest fears: that the reopening of L.A. County would coincide with sudden jumps in disease transmission that have the potential to overwhelm public and private hospitals.

L.A. County has long been the epicenter of the coronavirus in California — with nearly 98,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,300 deaths — but officials said Monday that the outbreak is worsening.

Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for L.A. County, said that new data show “alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalization.”

“There’s so much at stake, since these continued increases will result in many more people becoming seriously ill, and many more deaths of COVID-19,” she said.

“We are seeing an increase in transmission. We’re seeing more people get sick and go into the hospital. This is very much a change in the trajectory of the epidemic over the past several days. It’s a change for the worse and a cause for concern,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, L.A. County’s director of health services.

With a predicted increase in hospitalizations, for the first time since the coronavirus crisis seemed to ease locally, L.A. County is now projecting the possibility of running out of hospital beds in two to three weeks. Likewise, the number of intensive care unit beds could be exhausted sometime in July.

If the increased disease transmission rate continues as it has done so over the last few weeks, it “suggests that we are at risk of running out of hospital beds if we don’t take steps to increase that capacity within the next two to three weeks,” said Dr. Roger Lewis, a biostatistician, director of the COVID-19 demand modeling unit for L.A. County and chair of the emergency department at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

The county is able to meet hospital demand currently, but many of the patients who have already been exposed to the virus will now be filling the beds in the coming weeks. It can take three to four weeks after exposure to the virus for infected people to become sick enough to be hospitalized, and four to five weeks after exposure for some of the most vulnerable patients to die from the disease.

Source: LA Times