“The very high numbers I will report today are, sadly, not a surprise,” said Los Angeles Public Health Chief Science Officer Dr. Paul Simon on Friday.
Those numbers come two weeks to the day after Christmas. A surge in infections two weeks after Christmas was the prediction, over and over again, from health officials trying to help L.A. avoid a new surge.
“This very clearly is the latest surge for the winter holidays and New Year’s,” said Simon. “And it’s likely to continue over the next week or two. We do expect these numbers continue to be high over the next couple weeks.”
Health officials have noted that there was a fall surge and a Thanksgiving surge on top of that. While daily cases have dipped a bit recently, they’ve fallen to nowhere near where they were before the fall or Thanksgiving jumps. That means the holiday surge is being piled on top of an already high plateau of cases.
Simon observed the two-week period between event and surge seems to be shortening over time. “That may reflect upon this surge upon a surge,” he said.
“If you look over the last 4 days, we’ve seen a greatly elevated number,” acknowledged Simon. “It’s just a clear indication of what was happening 2-4 weeks ago over the holidays. We do anticipate, given the high numbers of cases, for this to continue…over the next few weeks.”
“These current numbers may become even worse. We may even see a further rise. It’s cause for great concern,” said Simon.
“In a sense, our fate has been sealed here,” he continued. “Our hospitals are preparing. The mortuaries are preparing. While we can’t change the past, we can change the future and we have to be more disciplined about our actions. We have to.
Los Angeles County reported another 18,313 COVID-19 cases on Friday, one of the highest daily totals of the pandemic. Thursday’s number of new cases was 19,719 — another near record — bringing the overall tally since the start of the pandemic to 889,405.
Los Angeles County on Friday reported its first-ever count of more than 300 daily coronavirus-related deaths, at 318. By comparison, an average of 170 people die in the county every day of all other causes.
COVID-19 Daily Update:
January 8, 2021
New Cases: 18,313 (889,405 to date)
New Deaths: 318 (11,863 to date)
Current Hospitalizations: 8,074 pic.twitter.com/mvUsPDT9FL
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) January 9, 2021
The 318 new deaths lift the countywide pandemic total to 11,863. To make another comparison, that’s more deaths in a year than any other single premature cause of death, including heart disease, per the county’s most recent figures.
As a result, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services announced on Thursday that a temporary morgue would be erected in a parking lot adjacent to the L.A. County Coroner’s building to handle the record number of bodies it’s seeing.
The facility will include at least five 53-foot trailers supplied by the state and five more supplied by the county, along with an unknown number of “ground refrigerated storage containers.”
Dr. Simon noted that Friday marked the one year anniversary of “when we issued our first L.A. Health Alert about Covid-19.”