LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Facing a new surge in coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County hospitals could run out of available beds within the next two to three weeks, county health officials say.
ICU beds could run out even sooner.
County health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer is urging hospitals to begin putting in place their plans to prepare for a surge.
"If the trajectory continues, the number of ICU beds - our most limited resource - is likely to become inadequate in the near future," Ferrer wrote in a letter to hospital executives.
The surge plans include putting elective surgeries and other services on hold; preparing non-traditional areas such as operating rooms and waiting rooms to hold hospital beds; and making sure facilities have extra supplies of personal protective equipment on hand.
The new projections from the county's predictive modeling team warn the trajectory of the epidemic is changing for the worse.
That means roughly 1 in 140 residents of Los Angeles County are currently infectious to others, compared to about 1 in 400 from a week earlier.
"A typical large busy store is likely to have multiple infectious persons enter and shop every day," the predictive modeling team writes.
One of the more positive developments in the otherwise alarming trend is that doctors have learned more about caring for patients with COVID-19 in ways that avoid putting them on ventilators or placing them in the ICU. That has left more of those beds and equipment available than what would have been expected with the level of medical care at the start of the pandemic.
As COVID-19 surges, LA County hospitals running low on hospital beds, ICU space
Facing a new surge in coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County hospitals could run out of available beds within the next two to three weeks, county health officials say.