By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – County health officials are once again warning Angelenos about the potential to see high numbers of hospitalizations in the next month.

Los Angeles County’s health services director Dr. Christina Ghaly warned Wednesday that without a significant change in the current trajectory of COVID-19 cases, the county’s hospital capacity could be overwhelmed.

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Ghaly issued a similar warning in June, but the dire projection never materialized.

At that time, Ghaly said that more than 1,700 people were hospitalized Monday with COVID-19, up from about 1,300 at the beginning of the month. If that trend continued, Ghaly said the county could quickly run out of beds in intensive care units — forcing hospitals to adjust operations to create additional ICU space.

On Wednesday – nearly eight months since coronavirus pandemic began – there were currently 1,188 people hospitalized due to the virus.

There were 36 new coronavirus-related deaths, lifting the countywide total to 7,335 since March.

“As you know, we’ve been at this point before, but the message is still critical that you’ve heard,” Ghaly said Wedneday. “Each of us must continue to individually assess what we are doing with our daily activities and our behaviors and rededicate ourselves to the practices that we know can curb transmission of COVID-19 within our communities.”

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Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC USC, said that based on current trends, hospitals are bracing for the worst.

“Our fear is what the next two, four, six, eight weeks are gonna look like,” he said. “If the level of cases continues to rise relentlessly, there will be a point eventually where we hit saturation.”

Spellberg said that right now LAC USC has enough beds to take in all emergency patients, but in the last several weeks, they have seen a sharp spike in positive COVID-19 cases.

“The good news is that many of them are not sick enough to require hospitalization,” he said.

L.A. County health chief Dr. Barbara Ferrer painted a dire picture for the coming weeks if the spread of the virus is not controlled.

Ferrer said average daily new cases could double in the next three weeks, from 2,000 to 4,000.

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The warning followed another announcement from public health officials about renewed restrictions on Southland businesses and a potential curfew being enacted if cases continue to surge.