By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County reported 2,152 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 327,964 since the pandemic began.

Another 22 virus-related deaths were also reported, raising the death toll to 7,216.

As cases continue to climb, officials have made it clear that the county will not be moving into a less restrictive tier of the state’s reopening map for at least several weeks.

Currently, 903 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office sent out a citywide alert reminding people about the spike in cases and urging them to get tested if they feel symptoms.

Garcetti’s office said, with the holiday season approaching, the rise in cases must be taken seriously. That is why the city decided to use a wireless emergency alert, which is usually reserved for earthquakes or severe weather.

“It’s going to go to everybody,” Garcetti said. “It doesn’t mean that you have symptoms. It’s a reminder that if you do have symptoms or know somebody, please make sure you get tested.”

Thousands of cars lined up at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday for testing. Yamileth Catalan said she has come to be tested quite often, and the line was longer than usual.

“Today has been a lot longer,” she said. “I usually come in 10, 15 minutes. Today has been 30 minutes in line already…I know numbers have increased so a lot of people coming in and get tested.”

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, said on Tuesday that hospitalizations have increased by 31.6% statewide over the last two weeks, and the number of ICU patients was up 30%.

Ghaly also noted that cases are rising statewide, meaning the situation could be even worse in the coming weeks.

“As we look forward to next week and we see which counties may have missed their current tier threshold this week, we anticipate if things stay they way they are, that between this week and next week over half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier,” Ghaly said. “And so that certainly is an indication that we’re concerned and that we have to keep a close watch on what’s happening.”

Health officials have blamed an increase in public and private gatherings for the surge in cases, and they said that upcoming winter celebrations could make the problem worse.

“If we don’t slow the spread now, we’re heading into a very unfortunate holiday season,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. She urged all residents to re-commit to basic infection control methods, including mask wearing and social distancing.

Garcetti’s office said that a second citywide alert was sent on Wednesday to communities within the city of L.A. that are impacted most by the rise in cases — which includes Downtown, East L.A., West Valley, and South L.A.

The county has reported more than 2,000 new cases for six out of the past seven days.

“Today, we celebrate and pay respect to our veterans for their service and sacrifice to our nation,” Ferrer said Wednesday. “If you are looking to celebrate Veterans Day, many events and celebrations in L.A. County have planned ways to pay homage to our veterans virtually. As more than 4,200 veterans have passed away from COVID-19 nationwide, we honor, celebrate and protect our veterans by doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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