COVID-19 deaths spiked dramatically in the last week of December 2020, nearing the 10,000 mark in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County public health officials warned that the holiday death toll is likely undercounted by as many as 432 fatalities due to a reporting glitch, according to City News Service.
Some Los Angeles County hospitals were forced to close their doors to ambulance traffic for 12 hours at a time and patients in critical need of oxygen waited as long as 18 hours for help breathing the Los Angeles Times reported. The surge of new coronavirus cases is well beyond regional hospital capacity in terms of staffing, supplies and space.
Between the first weeks of November and the post-Christmas weekend, average daily coronavirus hospitalizations in the county increased by 674%, while daily deaths have jumped by 600%.
Hospitals turned cafeterias and conference rooms into medical-care space, and still countless families gathered for holiday celebrations over the weekend, ensuring that the coronavirus crisis won’t be coming to an end anytime soon.
In Northern California, where the curve has begun to flatten, public traffic has decreased by 55%. In Southern California, it has decreased by only 24% .
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said “The rate of community transmission remains extraordinarily high, and this has taxed our hospital system as more COVID-19 patients continue to stream in on top of the thousands of patients already fighting for their lives.”
Images of crowds at airports, packed traffic on freeways, and mobbed shopping malls easily predict that the situation will continue to worsen.