VENICE, CA — Health officials in Los Angeles County Monday pleaded with the public to stay home to protect the health care system, front-line workers and stop the spread of the coronavirus as hospitalizations climb across the county.
Coronavirus hospitalizations are the highest the county has ever seen before, officials said Monday.
Decreasing community transmission rates is the county’s main goal as the county enters its third wave, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said.
“We’ve had a doubling of daily deaths since the beginning of November,” Ferrer said.
And although the death rates are not immediately rising, Ferrer warns that in the pandemic waves in the past death rates have increased.
“I think there’s a few factors that we have to pay attention to,” she said. “I would not have anticipated the same level of increase in cases. We’ll see in increases in cases, and then hospitalizations and then a week or two later we’ll see increases in deaths.”
Los Angeles County is reporting another 27 coronavirus-related deaths and 8,086 new cases. The county’s death toll is now at 7,936, and a total of 457,880 cases have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is now at 2,988, another record high.
Public health inspectors are inspecting businesses each day to make sure they are complying with health protocols, Ferrer said. These inspectors are issuing warnings and fines. As of Monday, 16 citations were issued, a majority were gyms or fitness centers, she said.
Businesses with the lowest compliance rates this past week included restaurants, retail stores/indoor malls, food and market retail and wholesale, garment manufacturing, hotels and gyms.
“We thank all of the businesses for working with us to be in compliance and for all those businesses that are coming into compliance when we know that there are violations,” Ferrer said.
Since the beginning of April, the USC Center for Social and Economic Research has been conducting a survey with residents in the county about their actions during the pandemic.
Recent findings found that more people are visiting other people’s homes and ignoring public health officials’ warnings.
“We saw a steady increase from April to June, a slight decrease in July and August, and then a steady climb of people saying that they recently visited another person’s home,” Ferrer said.
“It does appear that the warnings of the surging cases of late October and early November had limited impact on people’s willingness to visit another person’s home, with just a slight dip in the week before Thanksgiving,” Ferrer said. “For the entire month of November, about 1/3 of the respondents to the survey said they had visited someone else’s home.”
“It is our sincere hope and our wish that with these additional restrictions across our region we’ll begin to see decreases in cases across our region,” Ferrer said.
More people are visiting another person’s home.
For the entire month of November, about 1/3 of respondents to the survey said they had visited someone else’s home.
“Indeed, people continuing to spend time with people not inside their household does create risk and contributes to increases in community transmission but it’s not the only reason,” Ferrer said. “Multiple activities and actions are responsible for the continued surge.”
Unsafe work environments, people mingling with others who are not part of their household, parties and group activities in public and private places have all led to outbreaks, Ferrer said.
“A new stay-at-home order gives us an opportunity to place a pause on all non-essential activities that increase the risk of transmitting the virus so that we can have a chance at getting the surge under control,” she said.
“The most important action we can take is to stop the surge by staying home as much as possible,” Ferrer said. “Please as we watch these numbers go up to levels that we’ve never seen in LA County, I do ask everyone to make it their mission to do their part to prevent further transmission of the virus. We owe it to ourselves and to each other.”
On Sunday, the percent of ICU beds that were occupied was at 84%, she said. The main concern is now protecting the staff, she added.
“Over 1,700 health care workers tested positive for COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “That’s double and that has a tremendous impact on our entire health care system.”
“Our strategy is to protect the hospitals,” Ferrer said. “Overall beds are running at about 75% full. Right now we have capacity with our own surge plans with the existing hospitals to handle at least the next few weeks of cases.”
– City News Service and Patch Editor Nicole Charky contributed to this report.
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