Just hours after it was announced that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will gather on Wednesday to discuss further possible COVID-19 restrictions including a broad shutdown, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti took to the mic.
“This pandemic at this moment is threatening to spiral out of control,” said the mayor.
He said the number of hospitalizations related to the virus was up 50% in the past week.
“At this rate, our hospitals won’t have any spare beds by Christmastime,” he warned. “Once you get past that tipping point it gets too late”
“Our transmission rate is now 1.18,” he said. That means that for every person who is infected another 1.18 people are infected. In a county with 10 million residents, that can snowball quickly.
Further, said Garcetti, if the current rates stand, 11,500 Angelenos will have died from Covid-19 by the end of the year. Right now, the death toll stands at 7,438. That means 4,000 more deaths in a little over five weeks. “All the trends are headed in the wrong direction,” said Garcetti.
If they continue as-is, L.A. County is projected to reach half-a-million cases by year end, he revealed.
And if hospital beds run out, the mortality rate will drastically increase.
Even if there are adequate beds, an even more worrisome issue may be staffing. ICU beds, in particular, require special training that is now is short supply.
The county has closely tracking the number of positive cases among healthcare workers related to the COVID-19 pandemic response to be sure there are sufficient healthcare workers to staff facilities and care for patients. This week, according to the department, there were an additional 842 new cases among healthcare workers, one of the highest increases seen in months.
“The solution is simple,” said the mayor, “stay away from each other. This year, love is not being with someone you love.”
The news of the looming Board of Supervisors meeting follows as the county’s reported 6,124 new positive cases on Monday. That’s the first time Los Angeles county has reached that 6,000 case mark.
The County is experiencing a steeper increase in daily cases of COVID-19 than seen during the summer surge in June and July, according the the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
On Sunday Los Angeles County officials announced that restaurants, wineries and breweries will halt in-person dining (including outdoor seating) for at least three weeks starting this Wednesday. While such public places may continue to operate for solely pick-up, drive-thru and/or delivery, Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said that the county found multiple Los Angeles restaurants violating COVID-19 restrictions, mostly for proper social distancing.
For example, in the two-week period from October 31 to November 14, the county reported a 200% increase in food facility outbreaks.
Exactly what the new order will look like was unclear, pending a discussion expected Tuesday between health officials and the county Board of Supervisors. Health officials said last week the order would generally allow only essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes. But county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday the specifics still need to be ironed out with the board.
“I know for sure we’re not going back to all of the restrictions that were in place in the original Safer At Home order (issued at the beginning of the pandemic),” Ferrer said. “For one thing, we’ve learned a lot more. We have much more capacity on testing now, which allows us to do a better job quickly identifying people who are positive. And to everyone’s credit, this is a county that when we had a surge before was able to, in fact, get back to slowing the spread.
“It did require us making some decisions about closing some sectors, but I think again this will be a conversation with the board,” she said.
Asked for his stance on a potential shutdown Garcetti said, “I don’t think these numbers lie. I don’t think we can sit around for a couple weeks…I do support it.
“If those orders do come down,” promised Garcetti, “we will take the funds we have in Business Assistance and surge them to those businesses. We can keep them open, but they will eventually close anyway.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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