With the increase in LA COVID-19 cases, alarming new indicators are emerging

Los Angeles County quickly ran out of time to prevent hospitals from charging COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks because the virus had an unprecedented attack and further infections on Thanksgiving weekend were dangerous.

Officials hoped to start the holiday with some festive signals that the latest wave is slowly starting to slow. But the coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate, increasing the chances of it spreading more widely when people gather with family and friends.

From Wednesday evening, restaurants in much of LA County will have to suspend outdoor dining. Additional restrictions may come when county elected officials review the Department of Public Health’s recommendations.

LA County reported an average of nearly 4,300 new cases of coronavirus daily by Wednesday, a number that has reached a new high on third consecutive days. Unless something dramatic is done for slow delivery, that number is well on its way to doubling in two weeks and quadrupling in a month, ”said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of LA County Health Services.

Officials say hospitals will experience a shortage of beds in the next two to four weeks, especially in intensive care units, if these trends continue. Hospitals are now better equipped than in the spring to handle potential surges, COVID-19 treatment has been significantly improved, and hospitals can cancel elective surgeries to provide more space for critical COVID patients.

But “the ability of hospitals to be able to immerse and open additional beds is not infinite,” Ghaly said.

County COVID-19 hospital treatments have more than doubled in just three weeks, from 800 in Halloween to just 1,700 on Tuesday.

“It really signals an extremely rapid spread of the virus and speaks not only to young, healthy and asymptomatic people, but also to those who are getting sick and need to be in hospital,” Ghaly said.

Given that confirmed infections have only continued to grow – and it usually takes two to three weeks for those with a positive result to get sick enough to require professional medical care – it’s likely that number will continue to swell, Ghaly said. .

This is not the first time that county officials have warned of the potential dangers of the current coronavirus surge to the health care system. But the danger only increased with the case count.

In the county, daily infections quadrupled and daily deaths tripled in weeks, a growth rate that has led to “the most alarming metrics we’ve ever seen,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health.

“At this point, there is a risk that overloading the health care system is now a very realistic option,” he told the LA County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Over the past seven weeks, the number of new daily coronavirus cases in the county has swelled from an average of 1,000 to 4,000 on a seven-day average, a Times analysis found.

The average number of deaths per day has also tripled, averaging 30 over the seven-day period ending Wednesday.

Hospital data leaping to the skies show two things, Ghaly said: the virus is still widespread in the community, and its spread is not limited to those who can easily escape the devastation.

If the number of COVID-19 patients continues to grow, Ghaly said, “people need to be prepared to possibly interrupt their irrelevant surgeries or procedures in order to accommodate hospitals,” as this is “truly the largest faculty of hospitals and health systems for “to release the beds very, very quickly. “

While hospitals plan to expand their capacity as needed, Ghaly says the biggest challenge is staffing – especially in intensive care units, where about a quarter of all COVID-19 patients are cared for.

He has already said that there are natural limitations to the number of people properly trained for ICU-level care, and unfortunately the number of cases has jumped in California and much of the nation, making it much harder to call staff if the deficit reaches crisis levels in LA County.

“I don’t want to minimize the severity of the situation or the need for people to really take their behavior and what they do very seriously, which could contribute to increased spread,” Ghaly said.

Within a week or two, officials said the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in LA County could increase by an additional 30% to around 2,200. That would be the largest amount the county has ever had.

By Wednesday, LA County had experienced an average of 4,300 new daily infections over a seven-day period, according to Times analysis. In the summer, the average number of new coronavirus cases per day rose to 3,300.

The fact that coronavirus tests will be positive in LA County is now 6.6%, nearly doubling the level at the end of October and tripling the rate in San Francisco.

“Such a large increase in cases and hospitalizations will undoubtedly lead to the deaths of more people,” Ferrer said.

More than 7,500 county residents have already died from COVID-19, more than double the flu-related deaths in the past cold and flu season.

With the diagnosis of new infections, hospitalizations are expected to continue in the coming weeks.

State health officials estimated that roughly 12% of those who achieved a positive result were hospitalized two to three weeks later, so a lasting and significant wave risk could extend to the borders.

The state saw 16,681 new cases on Tuesday alone, the second most common in a single day, behind Monday’s 20,654 figures alone, according to an independent California county survey.

The last significant rise in coronavirus in the state was followed by a peak of daily deaths two months after Memorial Day.

If this pattern is true, it is likely that LA County will reach the peak of daily COVID-19 deaths at Christmas or later.

In light of the surges, the county has taken additional measures to control the spread of the disease. A new order will take effect Wednesday night that will close the restaurants ’outdoor dining areas for at least three weeks.

However, the move was not undisputed and two members of the county board of supervisors unsuccessfully pushed for its repeal on Tuesday.

County officials are also drafting a new health order that is expected to ban all gatherings except for outdoor church services and outdoor protests, and reducing the capacity of stores.

However, health officials did not disclose new restrictions in their briefing on Wednesday afternoon, saying possible further measures are still being discussed with the Supervisory Board.

The state has also introduced new measures, namely a decree banning most non-core activities outside the home from 10pm to 5pm in counties such as LA, which are at the strictest “purple” level of the state’s color-coded reopening path. map.

“Every day while we wait for these changes means we have another day with the high incidence, another day the pressure is on our hospitals, and it is the responsibility and responsibility of all of us to change,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary.

The problem now is that with much higher infections than ever before, activities that seemed safe a month ago are much more dangerous.

“In general, we know that whenever we meet people where your guard falls, your mask comes off, closer or a few meters apart, there is a risk of transmission,” Mark Ghaly said.

Because the virus can be transmitted in such a way that the infected person never becomes ill, he added: “Most people with COVID do not know that you are a real risk … as these activities increase, we know you will see the transmission . “

As an explanation for the current rise in infections, officials cite the onset of colder weather that keeps people inside, increasing the risk of transmission; increased travel from severely affected states; gatherings to celebrate holidays or watch sporting events; demonstrations and celebrations related to the last elections; increase in workplace epidemics; and a misconception that the threat of an epidemic is over.

Health officials are particularly annoyed that masses can carry the virus when traveling for Thanksgiving, similar to the fact that Chinese trips like the Lunar New Year also boosted the onset of the epidemic in China.

Federal, state and local authorities have asked people to stay home at Thanksgiving and cancel their travel plans.

So far, California is generally in a better position than other parts of the country where hospitals are already overcrowded. But officials say they are worried that this could easily change.

Pandemic control measures have worked twice in the past to dramatically slow the spread of the disease – first in the spring when a comprehensive home stay regime was prescribed; then again in early summer, when Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of bars, indoor restaurants and movie theaters in the worst-affected counties.