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L.A. County Continues to Break Daily COVID-19 Case and Hospitalization Records

Graph showing hospitalization rates of confirmed and suspect Covid-19 cases. | Graph courtesy of L.A. County

For the third day in a row, Los Angeles County on Thursday once again broke its record for the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. The county also broke a two-day old record for the number of newly confirmed cases in a single day.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 44 new deaths and 7,854 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, surpassing the record set on Tuesday of 7,593. Since early November, average daily cases have increased by 225%, and in the past week and a half the county has seen this average jump to over 5,300 cases each day.

There are 2,572 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 23% of these people are in the ICU. This number surpassed Wednesday’s all-time high of 2,439 people hospitalized with COVID-19. The average daily number of people hospitalized has increased 94% in just two weeks.

A continued surge in cases and hospitalizations is not sustainable because as hospitalizations increase sharply, the healthcare system can become overwhelmed.

“Based on current modeling, unless there has been and continues to be changes in community transmission, we do anticipate that we will have a shortage of ICU beds over the next four weeks,” Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said Wednesday.

The county’s daily test positivity rate has also increased to 13%. The test positivity rate was 3.9% on Nov. 1. 

“We are at a dangerous point where surging cases and hospitalizations are not letting up,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “The county, state and local jurisdictions have taken measures to reduce crowding and mingling among non-household members, however this is a health crisis that requires all of us to take action and be diligent.”

Increased COVID-19 transmission has a cascading impact in populations that are of particular concern to public health officials. Weekly cases among healthcare workers increased 71% since the first week of November. Weekly new outbreaks at worksites increased 172% since early November. Weekly new cases among people who are residing in skilled nursing facilities increased 89% since early November. Cases at schools, both among staff and students, increased 224% since early November.

Along with the steep acceleration of COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations, the county is experiencing increases in people passing away from COVID-19. Since Nov. 9, average daily deaths have increased 92%. This past week, average daily COVID-19 deaths climbed to 38.

As cases surge, particular groups are being impacted at higher rates. The gaps between race and ethnicity groups that closed in September have now dramatically widened, particularly for Latino/Latinx residents compared to other groups, though all groups are experiencing increases.

Latino/Latinx residents are now experiencing a seven-day cumulative rate of 270 new cases per 100,000 people. This is over twice that of white residents, the group with the second highest case rate of about 125 cases per 100,000 people per day. African American/Black residents are experiencing about 112 new cases per 100,000 people and Asian residents experience around 80 new cases per 100,000 people.

African American/Black and Latino/Latinx residents are also experiencing an alarming increase in deaths. The death rate among Latino/Latinx residents has increased from 1.5 deaths per 100,000 people to three deaths per 100,000 people. The death rate for African American/Black residents has increased from less than one death per 100,000 people to nearly 1.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

The county also continues to see a high mortality rate among people living in areas with the highest levels of poverty, with three times the death rate compared to people living in the lowest levels of poverty.

This week, there are 132 new cases among people experiencing homelessness. Similar to increases in community cases, weekly reported cases among people experiencing homelessness increased 97% from 67 new cases the week of Nov. 9 to 132 new cases this week.

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