L.A. County Could See New COVID-19 Lockdown “Early Next Week”; Record New Cases & Hospitalizations In Region

Dominic Patten
·4-min read

Mere minutes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new regional stay-at-home order for the state to counter rising coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County health officials said Thursday that the looming shutdown could hit the battered region within days.

“The anticipation is that threshold might be reached sometime early next week,” Dr. Christina Ghaly declared today of the order that kicks in once ICU capacity falls below 15% in specific regions of the Golden State. “It would be the Southern California region that would reach that threshold, not L.A. County alone,” added the area’s Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis in a clarification after Health Services Director Ghaly spoke.

Still, the wider scope doesn’t take any of the intensity out of the dire situation.

Right now, ICU beds are at 76% occupancy of the “roughly” 2,500 available in the county, Ghaly said at Thursday’s comparatively low-key briefing.

That ICU data should be taken in context of surging Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the county. Once again, L.A. County reached a tragic record of cases with an astonishing 7,854 new cases reported today. That’s a leap of over 31% from Wednesday’s new cases report and 3% more than the previous all-time record of December 1.

With the return of the Santa Ana winds the past few days, L.A. County also is experiencing rancid air quality because of new raging wildfires. In a glimmer of good news, transmission rates for coronavirus in the area dipped from last week’s 1.26 to 1.14. Hoping to build on that and “reduce Covid-19 spread throughout the holiday season,” according to Ghaly, the county will attempt to bring on board a at-home testing program in the next week.

However, county officials say that there have been 44 new deaths from coronavirus since Wednesday, bringing that total to 7,782. Currently, there are 2,572 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the region. The latter is also a new hospitalization record for the County.

On the heels of Newsom’s new guidelines and following the confusing “Targeted Safer-at-Home” order issued late Wednesday night by the City of LA, both Davis and Ghaly referred journalists to the state for clarification on where this was all headed and how.

The order from the City of Angels pretty much apes the “Temporary Targeted Safer at Home Order” put forth by the County on November 28. Mayor Eric Garcetti inked the new order before his evening presser Wednesday night but never mentioned it. His office quietly put the new-ish policy up online hours later, in what seemed like an afterthought.

Today’s briefing from county officials also comes as GovNewsom revealed the state’s vaccination rollout plan with 327,000 doses from Pfizer to be spread over six regions. With the first round of the vaccine expected in California in mid-January, Newsom added, with few hard details, that “tomorrow the regions will be making direct orders to Pfizer.”

Despite the fanfare Thursday by the governor, neither Southern California nor the fellow identified regions of Northern California, the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and greater Sacramento has tumbled below that 15% mark – yet.

Not that Health Officer Davis thought that was any argument for Angelenos to drop their vigilance. We’re “really asking people to stay at home as much as possible,” he said in tones and language sadly reminiscent of the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year.

Earlier today, Ghaly and other L.A. County officials joined a small gathering of faith leaders to honor the 1,547 individuals who died in 2017 but never had their bodies claimed. Held at a Boyle Heights cemetery, where the ashes of the 1,547 lay in a mass grave, the long-held annual event for the unclaimed also was a victim of the coronavirus in its own way. Instead of being open to the public, as it has been for over a century, the ceremony was greatly restricted due to Covid-19 safety protocols and streamed online.

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