LA County health officials warn of a 'surge upon a surge' as hospitals remain stretched to limits

Officials are once again urging people not to travel and gather during the upcoming holidays and warn of a "surge upon a surge."
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County's hospital space continued to dwindle Monday as the latest COVID-19 surge has positioned the county to risk becoming the worldwide epicenter of the pandemic, and leaving health officials concerned holiday gatherings could cause further strains on the hospital system.

L.A. County Public Health Department Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the latest spike is creating a health care crisis and overwhelming hospital ICUs, adding that the current surge is tied to too many Southern Californians traveling and attending holiday gatherings.

Officials are once again warning people not to travel and gather during the upcoming holidays. Since the beginning of the surge in November, cases have increased in L.A. County by 862%.

"Every single time you're with others that aren't in your household, it's much more likely now than at anytime before that someone near you is infected," Ferrer said Monday during a briefing. "The only path forward for us that has any chance at stopping the surge is for all of us to stay home as much as possible, and to enjoy these holidays with just our immediate household."

WATCH: Mayor Garcetti delivers emotional plea to Angelenos to stay home amid COVID-19 surge
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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti again urged residents to stay home as much as possible. During his coronavirus briefing, he warned hospitals are at risk of "going under."



County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said the level of transmission needs to be reduced.

"We absolutely need to avoid the surge upon a surge that could happen if people intermingle with others over the upcoming holidays over the next week or so," she said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti again urged residents to stay home as much as possible, saying the L.A. testing sites have served 3 million people and that the positivity rate at those sites is now a "staggering" 20.58%. During his coronavirus briefing, he warned hospitals are at risk of "going under."

The county on Monday recorded 11,271 new COVID-19 cases and the number of people currently hospitalized is at 5,709 - 21% of those are in the ICU.

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Despite public health pleas not to travel for the holidays due to an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases, a growing number of Americans are heading to the airport, including in Los Angeles.



"Public Health warns that without a change in how we celebrate the winter holidays, Los Angeles County will experience a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge," the county stated. "Hospitals are already over capacity and the high-quality medical care we are accustomed to in LA County is beginning to be compromised as our frontline healthcare workers are beyond stretched to the limit."

Meanwhile, the county said it expected to receive 116,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first shipment some time this week.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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