One day after Los Angeles saw its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases ever, county health officials warned of another related rising number: deaths.
“Our daily counts for the past few days have been higher than a usual week,” said L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer. “The last 3 days we’ve been over 25 deaths each day, and that’s unusual. Today and yesterday’s rates have been higher.”
The number of deaths related to the virus reported on Friday was 35. That may not seem like much, but multiplied over the course of a month that’s more than 1,000 additional people lost. And there’s not much to indicate that the daily number of deaths will go down anytime soon.
On Wednesday, L.A. County director of health and human services, Dr. Christina Ghaly warned that an increase in hospitalizations is almost inevitable in the next two weeks, given the current number of new cases and the virus’s incubation period.
Ghaly then laid out the probable end result with an equation. She noted that about 12% of all coronavirus cases end up in the hospital before continuing. “Half of those end up in ICU,” she continued. “Two-thirds of those are on a ventilator. Half of those will die, based on previous experience.”
So, if we run Friday’s near-record number of 4,272 coronavirus cases through that equation, the daily death toll resulting from today’s cases in 2-3 weeks may be as high as 85 deaths a day. That’s more than three times Friday’s reported COVID-19 deaths. Again, over the course of a month that would work out to 2,500 deaths. For context, the highest number of daily deaths reported, according to Deadline’s records, was 91 on July 29.
And that projection assumes hospitals and ICUs don’t get overwhelmed. If that happens and patients can’t get proper treatment, the death toll will skyrocket even further.
“If our case rates keep going up and our hospitalization rate is higher than July,” said Ferrer, “there is no way we can keep up.”
California-at-large reported daily deaths had risen from 55 at the end of October to 91 on Friday. That’s a 40% rise in 3 weeks. And given that the state hit an all-time high of daily new cases on Friday at 13,005, the number of daily deaths is certain to rise much, much higher.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a limited Stay-at-Home Order on Thursday. The order requires “generally that non-essential work, movement and gatherings stop between 10 PM and 5 AM in counties in the purple tier.” It goes into effect Saturday night. That for every county in Southern California and 94% of the state’s population. It will remain in place until December 21.
A separate set of restrictions from L.A. County goes into effect on Friday night. Those restrictions, require restaurants, wineries, breweries and non-essential businesses to close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Other restrictions that took effect Friday were:
– Indoor “non-essential” businesses such as retail stores, offices and personal care services will be limited to 25% occupancy
– Outdoor service at restaurants, wineries and breweries will be limited to 50% of the maximum outdoor capacity
– Outdoor cardrooms, miniature golf sites, go-kart tracks and batting cages will be limited to 50% of maximum outdoor capacity
– Customers at personal-care businesses must make advance appointments, and no services that require customers to remove their face masks can be offered
– Outdoor gatherings must be limited to no more than 15 people from a maximum of three households.
Further, if cases and/of hospitalizations continue to rise, L.A. County officials said restaurants, wineries and breweries would be closed for in-person dining as well. That’s if the county reaches a five-day average of 4,000 or more cases, or if hospitalizations topped 1,750.
As of Friday, the county had a three-day average about 4,415 cases per day, meaning the case numbers over the next two days will be closely watched. There were 1,298 people hospitalized in the county, Ferrer said.
If the county’s five-day daily case average exceeds 4,500, or if hospitalizations top 2,000, the county will issue a strict “Safer-at-Home” order like the one imposed at the onset of the pandemic. The order would allow only essential workers to leave home, or people who are accessing essential services.
“If we can’t get this back under control, that is unfortunately where we’re headed,” Ferrer said. “I still hope that we don’t have to go to Safer-at-Home and that we’re able in the next few days to start turning this around.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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