LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Wednesday announced 5,987 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus and 40 deaths, bringing countywide totals to 414,185 cases and 7,740 deaths.
Officials also said there were 2,439 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Today was probably the busiest day that we’ve had post-Thanksgiving holiday,” Michael Daignault, an emergency room doctor at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, said.
He said doctors at the hospital have seen a nearly 100% increase in the number of patients in the last several days — many with symptoms of COVID-19.
“We have contingency plans set up for converting units for COVID patients. We have contingency plans for staffing,” he said. “I just think the exponential increase in cases was something we weren’t expecting to happen this quickly this early on.”
Of the nearly 2,500 hospitalized Wednesday throughout the county, 24% were being treated in intensive care units and 13% were on ventilators.
One of those patients is the husband of Martha Cota, a prominent community activist in Long Beach.
“He was on a ventilator, and he actually took a turn for the worse last night,” Silissa Uriarte Smith, a friend, said.
Uriarte Smith said friends have started a GoFundMe page for the couple, because Cota’s husband does not have health insurance.
“She is under a tremendous amount of stress, and she needs support and she’s a person who has supported so many people,” she said.
And on Wednesday night, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that if COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, the county could run out of hospital beds — and soon.
“If they continue to increase in the pace that we’ve seen, the county expects we will run out of hospital beds here in Los Angeles by Christmastime,” he said.
“We are seeing terrifying increases in cases in L.A. County,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “We are now at the worst point in this pandemic.”
Also on Wednesday, the city of Los Angeles issued an updated targeted Safer at Home order to align the city’s local order with the county’s order.
“It’s time to cancel everything, and if it isn’t essential don’t do it,” Garcetti said.
Health officials said there were 122 ICU beds available in the county — a county that serves more than 10 million people.