LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The outbreak of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County continues to get worse, and public health officials estimate every infected person is passing the virus to an average of 1.27 people – the highest transmission rate the county has seen since March.
“We continue to be at a very difficult time in this pandemic, as is much of the United States,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. “In fact, our situation is getting worse each day.”
Based on the transmission rate that LA County Public Health shared Wednesday, officials estimate that one of every 145 people in the county are now infected and transmitting it to others.
“That doesn’t include people that are currently hospitalized or isolated at home,” county Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “This is the estimate of people that are out and about infecting others. They may not know they’re infected. They may know they’re infected and not be isolating. But they’re out there and they’re exposing other people to the virus.”
The number of people in Los Angeles County hospitalized due to the virus has jumped by 70% in the past two weeks, with the county now averaging about 300 new admissions daily, according to Ghaly. With the current rate of transmission, Ghaly warned there would likely be shortages in the number of hospital beds, especially intensive-care unit beds, over the next two to four weeks.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing (a spike) before Thanksgiving even hits,” said Mission Hospital Emergency Room Physician Dr. Jim Keany. “I was hoping it would wait…but this is basically supercharged.”
Another 49 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the county Wednesday. The county also reported another 4,311 fresh cases of COVID-19, with 1,682 people currently hospitalized. A total of 7,543 people in Los Angeles County have died due to the virus, which has infected 378,323 since the pandemic began.
The number of hospitalized patients could double in two weeks, and quadruple in a month, Ghaly said. And even though hospitals have “surge” plans to increase the number of beds, the availability of health care workers to staff those beds and treat patients is more limited.
A majority of new infections have been from workplaces – Dr. Davis said there’s been a 67% increase in outbreaks reported at general worksites in the first two weeks of November and a 200% jump in outbreaks at food facilities during the same period. Dr. Davis said 42 new outbreaks were reported to the county in the past day alone.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)