Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2021. 7:49 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: America’s second-largest city and its greater metro area have tallied more than 1 million COVID-19 cases – one in every ten residents of Los Angeles County, according to Bloomberg News.
County scientists estimate actual infections are three times higher.
The health department reported 14,669 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to just over 1 million. The county also added 253 new deaths, for a total of 13,741.
Intensive care unit capacity in area hospitals is at zero following a surge in cases due to Thanksgiving and year-end holiday travel across southern California and elsewhere in the state, and the new cases add further strain to an already overwhelmed system.
The county also reported its first case of the U.K. variant — a man who recently spent time in the area before travelling to Oregon, where he’s isolating. Health authorities said it expects the variant to have spread in the community.
“The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our health-care system is already severely strained,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health said in a statement. “Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer.”
L.A., the biggest U.S. county by population, also has the greatest number of cases and death toll. Still, its death rate of 1.4% is the lowest among the five biggest U.S. counties by fatalities.
While L.A. was among the first U.S. cities to shut down non-essential businesses 10 months ago, and remains in a state-imposed lockdown after running out of intensive-care unit beds, officials have said enforcement remains the biggest challenge in containing the spread. The outbreak has also taken a toll on its economy.
In the past week, officials transformed Dodger Stadium, home of the baseball World Series champions, from the biggest U.S. COVID-19 testing site into a mass vaccination center to inoculate as many as 12,000 people a day. Five more large-scale vaccination sites will be opened, including famed concert venue the Forum, Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park and the Pomona Fairplex, site of the county fair. The sites will each be able to accommodate about 4,000 people a day.
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