LA County hits new single-day record of COVID-19 deaths

Dr. Jee-Hong Kim prepares to begin a Tracheostomy on COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at LAC+USC Medical Center, November 23, 2020. The hospitals are experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge. Hospital capacity is decreasing to alarming levels and our healthcare workers are pushed to the limits at the peak of the pandemic. LA County officials urge every single person living and working in LA County to follow safety protocols and health officer order. (Photo by Los Angeles County)

AS the first week of the New Year comes to a close, Los Angeles County hit the largest one-day total of COVID-19 deaths on Friday, January 8 with 318 new fatalities.

The new record surpasses the previous all-time high and represents another grim milestone for the county. This week alone, over 200 deaths were reported each day.

The county’s Department of Public Health reported that of the 318 new deaths, 114 people that passed away were over the age of 80, 107 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 61 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, 24 people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49, and two people who died were between the ages of 18 and 29. Seven deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach and two deaths were reported by the City of Pasadena.

The department also confirmed 18,313 new infections of COVID-19, bringing the total to 11,863 fatalities and 889,405 positive cases.

There are 8,074 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 20% of these people are in the ICU. The 3-day average for daily hospitalizations is 8,065; the highest the County has ever experienced.

“Today’s number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are tragic and alarming, and further confirm the widespread transmission of COVID-19. The very high numbers reported today didn’t happen by accident,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

Ferrer pointed the surge to the dismissal of precautions during the winter holiday season.
“Most of our new cases are a direct result of the actions taken by people who were not following the necessary precautions over the winter holiday…” she said, adding, “If we wish to turn this around and save lives, everyone must adhere to the safety measures put in place, residents and businesses alike.”

Officials are urging businesses to implement safety protocols and help protect employees and customers from the transmission of the virus.

Public Health’s compliance teams continue to visit businesses across the County every day and review public health protocols with business owners, identify deficiencies, and issue citations for businesses out of compliance. From December 6, 2020 through January 3, 2021 a total of 143 citations were issued to businesses including restaurants, gyms, personal care salons, hair salons/barbershops, places of worship, and shopping malls for noncompliance with Health Officer Orders. Since the end of August, a total of 526 citations have been issued.

To assist L.A. County businesses follow the required protocols and maintain their operations with as much safety as possible for their staff, customers, and visitors, Public Health encourages businesses to take advantage of the COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certification Program. The program provides business owners and employees the opportunity to take a free online training about COVID-19 infection control protocols and allows businesses to self-certify that they are fully implementing protocols in compliance with infection control and physical distancing requirements. To date, a total of 18,452 employees and employers have completed the training.

The high rates come as the county continues to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

As of Wednesday, 1,602 health care workers are fully vaccinated with both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The County received 166,300 Moderna doses as of Monday, of which 31,915 have been administered to staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities to EMTs and paramedics, and to healthcare workers in clinics. This includes healthcare workers at urgent care and primary care clinics, at intermediate and home healthcare facilities and services, as well as healthcare field workers who face a high risk of exposure.

Eighteen vaccination sites opened across the county this week for health care workers with appointments, and an additional six to eight sites are expected to open next week.

As of Monday, an estimated 11,680 staff and residents have been vaccinated at skilled nursing facilities. The federal pharmacy program should begin vaccinating staff and residents at long-term care facilities next week, the department said.

The county said it is seeking to begin vaccinating priority groups in Phase 1B in early February, anticipating adequate supply of the vaccine. Tier 1 in Phase 1B includes individuals 75 and older, and those at risk of exposure in education, childcare, emergency services and food and agriculture. Meanwhile, Tier 2 in Phase 1B includes persons between the ages of 65 and 74, those at risk of exposure if you work in transportation and logistics; in industrial, commercial and residential and sheltering facilities and services; in critical manufacturing; and congregate settings with outbreak risk including homeless and incarcerated. (AJPress)

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