In less than a month, Los Angeles County has recorded more than 5,000 COVID-19-related deaths, a pace that highlights the rampant and ruthless spread of the virus across the county.
In the roughly nine months between the first reported death on March 11 and the end of last year, illness caused by the novel coronavirus has killed just over 10,000 people in the county. Over the next 24 days, the rate of death accelerated dramatically with 5,106 people killed.
The official Los Angeles County Department of Public Health death toll stands at 15,162 after 269 deaths and 10,537 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Saturday. Overall, the total number of confirmed cases in the county has reached 1,064,887.
“We wish healing and peace to all who mourn a loved one lost to COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County director of public health, said in a statement. “Many people continue to spread this virus and, tragically, now more than 15,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.”
Of Saturday’s deaths, 62% of those who died were 65 and older – an at-risk demographic that county officials are struggling to quickly vaccinate against the virus.
The county also reported that 6,881 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, 24% of whom need intensive care. The numbers offered a silver lining as they mark the first time the county has dropped below 7,000 hospitalizations since December 29.
However, hospital intensive care capacity remains at 0% in Southern California.
“While we are seeing positive data on new cases and daily hospitalizations, we are far from out of the woods,” Ferrer said. “Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is extremely important to relieve the pressure on our health care system and save lives.”
She added, “Please continue to adhere to all safety measures to protect yourself and others: stay home as much as possible, wear a face mask, avoid gatherings, keep your distance, and wash your hands frequently.”
The county also reported eight new cases of a severe inflammatory disease that attacks children on Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the disease, known as MIS-C, is associated with COVID-19 and causes severe inflammation in body parts and vital organs. Children may experience symptoms such as “abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes” and fatigue.
There are currently 62 cases in the county, with Latinos accounting for nearly 74% of all infections. There was one death.
Each child with MIS-C was hospitalized, with 45% of children admitted to the ICU.
In Orange County, 78 deaths and 2,725 new COVID-19 infections were reported on Saturday, bringing the region’s total to 221,493 total cases and 2,625 deaths, according to the county health agency.
There are currently 1,818 hospitalized patients, of which 482 require intensive care.
Between January 10 and January 16, Orange County also reported 31 COVID-19 infections linked to schools in the county. Eleven students, 11 staff and nine teachers were infected, most of the cases coming from elementary and middle schools.
Since mid-August, 1,229 Orange County students, 490 teachers and 399 staff have contracted COVID-19.
The county also reported that a total of 152,368 people have since recovered from the virus.