“We expect unfortunately, as we go into the next couple of weeks into December, that we might see a surge superimposed on top of the surge that we’re already in.” That was Dr. Anthony Fauci on Meet the Press this past Sunday. See a clip of Fauci’s comments below.
His concerns were echoed on Monday by Los Angeles County health officials warning of dark days ahead.
“We are at the most difficult moment of the pandemic,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
Ferrer noted that the average number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in L.A. has increased by 93% over the past two weeks.
“Although currently we have adequate capacity at our hospitals and have extensive plans in place to take appropriate actions to manage these huge increases, a continued surge in cases is just not sustainable,” she said. And there were added concerns after local Thanksgiving gatherings and millions of Americans were traveling this past week.
Ferrer said the actions Angelenos took over the Thanksgiving weekend will show up in the coronavirus numbers about two weeks from now. “The worst scenario,” said Ferrer, “is we didn’t take care of ourselves” by wearing masks and limiting contact with others.
In that situation, said the director, “We have a surge on top of a surge in 2-3 weeks.” That means there will be another surge on top of the record numbers already being seen.
On Monday, the county reported another 5,150 confirmed cases of COVID- 19 and another 17 deaths. The new cases pushed the county over the cumulative 400,000 infections mark, with the total rising to 401,448. Since the pandemic began, 7,656 people have died in L.A. County due to coronavirus-related causes.
The number of people hospitalized also continued to rise, reaching 2,185 on Monday. The increasing hospital numbers have officials fearing the health care system will be overwhelmed if the surge isn’t reversed.
One month ago today.
Please stay home as much as possible, don’t gather with people outside your household, wear a face covering properly, and stay 6-feet apart from others if you do go outside. https://t.co/3XLncgiTzV
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) December 1, 2020
Ahead, the region faces not only the potential “surge on top of a surge” scenario outlined above, but also potential infections from an even bigger family holiday: Christmas. Beyond that, there remains the longtime fear of health officials that the worst of the winter Covid cases may coincide with the annual post-Christmas spike in flu cases.
Ferrer noted that the increasing hospital numbers also threaten health care workers, who are the most limited element of the system in terms of capacity. Ferrer announced another 747 cases of COVID-19 among health care workers on Monday.
“The very frontline workers that we rely on to care for us should we become ill are themselves now at increased risk of becoming sick,” she said.
Ferrer, however, pointed to continued alarming numbers of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as necessitating the new restrictions, saying the virus “is running rampant through almost every part of our county.”
“Contrary to the sentiments expressed by some, 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,” she said. “As we’re all seeing, when even relatively small numbers of businesses and individuals fail to adhere to sensible precautions, many others experience the consequences of these lapses.
“We’re aware there are many that are tired of repeated requests to sacrifice and others that are unhappy and frustrated with the latest safety modifications, particularly those modifications that have had a detrimental impact on businesses and their employees. We don’t really have any choice but to use all the tools at hand to stop the surge. Until there’s a vaccine, each of us needs to protect all of those around us.”
Earlier in the day, California Governor Gavin Newsom warned of a new, “drastic” state shutdown.
EARLIER: Dr. Anthony Fauci tells @chucktodd that "it is not too late" to stop the spread of Covid.
Dr. Fauci: "We might see a surge super-imposed on that surge that we're already in." pic.twitter.com/apLV5qbABa
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 29, 2020
City News Service contributed to this report.