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COVID-19 Surge Concerns L.A. County Health Officials and Warns Public to Follow Restrictions
By Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Published December 3, 2020

“With the recent surge of COVID-19 across our community, we must take additional safety measures to reduce the risk of illness and death from this terrible virus and protect our healthcare system,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. AP PHOTO

“We are at the most difficult moment [and] time in the pandemic. The alarming increases in cases that we continue to witness is not due to random events out of our control – many of these cases could have been prevented if individuals and businesses were following the straightforward public health measures of masking, distancing and infection control,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, director of Public Health.

The recent surge of COVID-19 has placed Los Angeles County back into “safer at home” protocols once again. Recent statistics by L.A. County health officials state that increase in COVID-19 cases requires the public to stop gatherings, to engage in essential activities only and continue observing social distancing and wearing masks.

“With the recent surge of COVID-19 across our community, we must take additional safety measures to reduce the risk of illness and death from this terrible virus and protect our healthcare system. These targeted measures are in effect for the next three weeks and still allow for many essential and non-essential activities where residents are always masked and distanced.”

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Some of those safety measures public health officials are asking Angelenos to continue to observe include:

*individuals remain in their homes and with their immediate households and reduce mingling with others not in your household

*wear a face covering whenever engaging in activities outside their homes where they are or can be in contact with others not in their household; this includes at gyms, at parks, at beaches; unless swimming, please keep your face covering on over your nose and mouth
The additional safety modifications in the order will remain in effect for three weeks until December 20 and include the following changes:

*public and private gatherings with individuals not in your household are prohibited, except for faith based services and protests, which are constitutionally protected rights

*occupancy limits at various businesses; all individuals at these sites are required to wear face coverings and keep at least 6 feet of distance: beaches, trails, and parks remain open; gatherings at these sites with members outside your household are prohibited

*drive-in movies/events/car parades are permitted provided occupants in each car are members of one household

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*all schools and day camps remain open adhering to re-opening protocols; K-12 Schools and Day Camps with an outbreak (3 cases or more over 14 days) should close for 14 days

As of Monday, November 30, Public Health identified 400,919, positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 7,655 deaths. On Monday, Public Health also confirmed 17 new deaths and 5,150 new cases of COVID-19. This was higher than the county’s peak number of daily cases during the summer surge, which averaged 2,950 cases on July 14.

There are 2,185 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 24% of these people are in the ICU. This is more than two times the average seen on November 13 when the daily number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 974. Laboratory confirmed total cases show 400,919 with Los Angeles County 381,535 cases, Long Beach with 15,713 cases and Pasadena with 3,671. By race and ethnicity, statistics show: American Indian/Alaska Native with 416; Asian with 12,700; Black with 11,867; Hispanic/Latino with 15,2910; Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander with 1,193; White with 35,315; those of other race and ethnicity with 38,861 and 12,8273 under investigation.

“It will put a strain on our hospital beds, our ICU beds, and even in Los Angeles County, where we have lots of beds but, we’ll see that surge and encroachment on those beds…” said Dr. LaShonda Spencer DAMIAN DOVARGANES/AP

Medical and health professionals in L.A. County weighed in on the severity of this latest surge of COVID-19. They shared the importance of following the new restrictions, the stress local medical centers are currently under and highlighted other ways this surge will compound existing medical needs.

“The steps to reduce COVID transmission are simple and grounded in science,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital. “We wear masks to cover our nose and mouth when outside the house, we stay home when we are sick, and we minimize the amount of time we spend with people outside our household.

She continued, “As our President-Elect reminds us, these actions represent the hard work of caring for others. The more we do this, the stronger our collective health and our economy will be.”

“This current surge really shows the predicament that we’re in and the reason why it’s so important that everyone wear a mask and follow the public health recommendations in terms of the new restrictions, isolation, and staying at home and avoiding crowded places,” said Dr. LaShonda Spencer, infectious disease specialist and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, and Clinical Director of the MCA Clinic at LAC+USC Keck School of Medicine.

Dr. Spencer stressed how this latest surge is maxing out rooms in hospitals and puts other patients at risk, who are already hospitalized.

“It will put a strain on our hospital beds, our ICU beds, and even in Los Angeles County, where we have lots of beds but, we’ll see that surge and encroachment on those beds and it will also affect those patients that are sick that don’t have COVID and need hospital beds for other ailments.”

Motorists line up at a coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium Monday, June 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

She continued, “I think it’s really important that we’re not only just thinking about COVID and the treatment of patients that are dealing with COVID but, we also have to think about our patients that have heart disease and other ailments that put them in hospital and they need beds as well.”

“This surge is very, very real,” said Dr. Sam Torbati, co-director of the Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai. “It’s much bigger than what we saw in the second wave and we’re seeing it, we’re seeing it at the hospital.”

He continued, “Patients are coming in, they’re very sick, they need hospitalization and at this point, we really need the community to help us by following the guidelines and following the direction of the health officials.

“If we continue to have more and more patients needing our care, we will get to a point where we can’t take care of everybody and that’s when things can get real concerning.

“We don’t want to get there.”

For more information and statistics on COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, please visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/

Categories: Health | Local | News
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