LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For the second day in a row, Los Angeles County on Christmas Eve set a new daily record for the number of new deaths from the coronavirus, with 148.
The L.A. County Public Health Department also reported Thursday 13,678 new coronavirus cases, bringing its countywide totals to 677,299 cases and its death toll to 9,299.
On Wednesday, L.A. County recorded 145 deaths from the disease.
Of the 148 new deaths reported, 51 people were over the age of 80 years old, 45 people were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, 28 people were between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, 11 people were between the ages of 30 and 49 years old and one person was between the ages 18 and 29 years old. Ninety-six had underlying health conditions.
“A person now dies every 10 minutes in L.A. County from COVID-19 — and since many of these deaths are preventable, our collective focus should be on doing right to save lives,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “I hope we can each find the strength and courage to take responsibility for each other’s well-being. Follow the public health directives. These are the only tools that will work right now.”
Health officials also reported there were 6,499 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, also a record high. Of those, 20% of whom were being treated in intensive care units. In the past week, the number of patients hospitalized has increased by more than 1,600.
There were also two additional cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, reported Thursday, bringing the total cases of MIS-C in L.A. County to 51 children including one child who died.
And while an overwhelming number of patients are in critical condition, healthcare workers are suffering too.
“I cannot vent to my co-workers, because my co-workers mostly are crying and they need my shoulder to cry on,” said one longtime ER nurse who spoke with CBSLA but did not wish to be identified.
The pressure to keep up with the alarming surge in cases is putting immeasurable weight on the shoulders of medical professionals.
“It’s trauma, but it’s also grief. It’s fear, it’s panic, it’s worry, ” said Dr. Hoda Abou-Ziab, a clinical psychologist at UCLA Medical Center.
She said before the surge, doctors and nurses were reaching out for mental health support. But now, there’s just no time.
“What I worry about is more the future,” she said. “So, once we are past this surge, what is it going to look like for our physicians, our nurses, our frontline staff?”
The L.A. County Department of Public Health also announced that it was providing more than $10 million worth of personal protective equipment to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living homes, adult residential care sites, substance use disorder centers, housing assistance programs and violence intervention agencies.
With testing results available for more than 4.5 million people, the overall positivity rate has increased to 14%.