LA County again breaks records for COVID-19 deaths and cases as hospitals stretched to limits

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County has once again shattered its daily record for new coronavirus cases and deaths, as officials warn that vaccine shipments are not coming fast enough to stop hospitals from being stretched to their limits right now.

The county on Wednesday reported 138 new deaths, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

The county also reported 22,422 new COVID-19 cases, but acknowledged the number included a backlog of about 7,000 new cases from a lab that hadn't reported results for a few days. Even without the backlog added on, 15,000 cases would be among the county's highest ever in a day.

"These are nonetheless extraordinary numbers and they represent transmission that continues to be out of control," said county public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

There are 4,656 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county, about 21% of them in the ICU and about 15% of them on ventilators.

The county has now recorded more than 539,000 cases since the pandemic began.

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Los Angeles County health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer presents the latest COVID-19 statistics. Adding Long Beach and Pasadena to her totals, the county reported 138 new deaths Wednesday and 8,568 since the pandemic began.

The county has also reported a total of 8,568 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Those figures include the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which maintain their own health departments. Long Beach reported 7 new deaths Wednesday and Pasadena had none, while the rest of the county reported 131.

There are now roughly 1 out of 80 people in Los Angeles County infected with the virus, according to Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county's health services director.

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Since the coronavirus started spreading across the globe in late 2019, scientists have been looking for a vaccine. Now that vaccines are proven, it will ultimately be up to each state to determine who will get the vaccine, and when?

While the arrival of vaccine doses in the county represents a "ray of hope," it's not coming fast enough and we're still in for a "rough few weeks," she said.

Los Angeles County hospitals are receiving 83,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

"The vaccine will not prevent the surge from happening," Ghaly said. "There's simply not enough doses in a short enough timeframe to make a difference in the general infection rate in the regular population."

Hospitals throughout Southern California, particularly the ICUs, are dangerously close to full as the surge continues to grow. ICUs in Los Angeles County currently have less than 1% of their capacity available.

Ghaly noted that people with COVID-19 infections risk taking resources away from other patients, such as those involved in heart attacks or car accidents and those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

That's why she and other officials have continued to reinforce the message about masks, social distancing and simply staying home.

"If you don't do everything possible to minimize the spread, then you are contributing to the spread," Ghaly said.
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