LA County shatters one-day coronavirus case record with 7,593 cases reported Tuesday
Los Angeles County shattered its record for new coronavirus cases reported in a single day on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and the number of people in hospitals with the virus also reached all-time highs — adding to already-ample evidence that this second surge is becoming increasingly dire.
The county reported 7,593 new cases Tuesday, topping the previous single-day record from Nov. 23, when officials announced 6,186 cases were reported; 408,396 people have tested positive since the pandemic began. And another 46 people died from coronavirus-related causes, the county said, bringing the death toll to 7,700. Hospitalizations, meanwhile, have steadily increase over the last couple of weeks — threatening to overwhelm the healthcare system.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday was the “worst day” of the pandemic in Los Angeles County. But, she added, the crisis will only deepen.
“It will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County,” Ferrer said in a statement. “That will be tomorrow, and the next day and the next as cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase.”
Ferrer called on every individual and business to take steps immediately to help stem the surge.
“We are in the middle of an accelerating surge in a pandemic of huge magnitude,” Ferrer said. “This is not the time to skirt or debate the safety measures that protect us because we need every single person to use every tool available to stop the surge and save lives.”
As of Tuesday, there were 2,439 people who tested positive for the virus in L.A. County hospitals, based on a state tracking database. The number of hospitalizations reported by the county was slightly lower, at 2,316 people, because the data was delayed a day. Roughly 24% of those in hospitals occupy intensive care unit beds.
The county has been adding roughly 100 net new patients at hospitals every day for the past two weeks. And with case numbers continuing their dramatic rise, the ranks of COVID-19 patients in hospitals will likely get larger; hospitalization rates typically lag two-to-three weeks behind cases, with death rates lagging even further behind those.
The daily death rate in L.A. County has also been on the rise, now up to 30 people on average per day over the past week.
Long Beach and Pasadena, both of which have their own health departments and report their data individually, have also seen worrisome spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
Pasadena on Tuesday reported no additional deaths, keeping the total number of residents who have died at 132. But the city did report 35 new cases, brining the number of residents who have tested positive since the pandemic began to 3,746. Pasadena is seeing 10 times more coronavirus cases now than it did six weeks ago.
Long Beach reported 584 new cases on Tuesday, though many of those were the result of a backlog that grew over the long Thanksgiving weekend. The city also reported reported two more coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday. In all, 16,786 residents have tested positive and 277 have died since the pandemic began.
And Long Beach — which on Tuesday followed LA County in banning all gatherings except for protests and religious services — saw its new daily case rate per 100,000 people hit 31.6, up from 28.4 on Saturday, continuing an unabated climb since early November.
The startling numbers further emphasized that the county, along with the rest of the state and most of the country, were heading into a dangerous winter where hospital beds — especially in ICUs — could soon face shortages.
This second and more aggressive surge in coronavirus cases also comes at a time when the public has become increasingly intolerant of ongoing public health orders and with the specter of holiday gatherings looming. The latest backlash came mostly from restaurants, with some defying county health orders and remaining open.
A committee representing 6,000 resident physicians across the state, including 2,500 in L.A. County, applauded the county Board of Supervisors for upholding the ban on outdoor dining last week in a 3-2 vote. Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn were the two dissenters.
“We recognize this was a hard decision and that people’s lives are being impacted by the closing and limiting of businesses,” a statement from the committee read. “However, we wholeheartedly believe that the health and safety of our communities should be prioritized at all times.”
The Southern California Association of Governments, meanwhile, discussed on Tuesday the challenges cities, counties and industries face amid the deepening pandemic. The association — which met, virtually, for its 11th annual economic summit — reported that the six-county region it covers lost more than 1.78 million jobs, a nearly 20% reduction, from February to April. And that’s before the pandemic really started taking a toll on the economy, since the major shutdowns didn’t begin until April — and lasted until June.
Still, the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic’s early months were leisure and hospitality — down 45%, an association report said.
In L.A. County, the tourism sector could take years to recover, said Shannon Sedgwick, director of the Institute for Applied Economics.
“It will likely take years before it reaches post-pandemic highs,” Sedgwick said, “as global travel recovers and people feel more comfortable.”
That said, the Southland’s strong economic foundation, robust healthcare infrastructure and massive education system should enable the region to bounce back fairly quickly once the pandemic is over, said Wallace Walrod, SCAG’s chief economic advisor.
“The region also faced significant hurdles recovering from the Great Recession, but stepped up and helped fuel the state’s economic recovery,” Walrod said, according to a press release. “To build resilience in the long run, leaders in government and across sectors are using this opportunity to not just recover but to reimagine the future.”