By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Thursday reported 15,129 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 290 new deaths, bringing countywide totals to 770,602 cases and 10,345 deaths.

Lab staff wear personal protective equipment while collecting tests from travelers in an on-site coronavirus testing laboratory at Los Angeles International Airport on Dec. 31, 2020. (Getty Images)

“As we see 2020 come to a close, we’re experiencing extreme conditions in L.A. County,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “With no decline in the number of new cases, our hospitals continue to be overwhelmed. As more and more people are rushed to hospitals, the tragic fact is that hundreds more people will die every week from COVID-19.”

The 290 deaths, a one-day record, was again attributed to a backlog in reporting from a Spectrum outage and the holidays.

According to the latest state numbers Friday morning, there were 7,613 COVID-19 patients being treated in L.A. County hospitals, also daily record since the start of the pandemic. 20.7% of them were being treated in intensive care units.

“It’s kind of a hidden disaster,” Cathy Chidester, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services agency, said. “It’s not a fire. It’s not an earthquake. It’s not a train wreck that’s right in the public view and they can see what is happening and they can avoid that area.

“It’s all happening behind the doors of households and hospitals,” she continued. “So nobody is really, the general public, is not really seeing what is going on.”

Chidester said there were reports of hospitals being so overwhelmed that ambulances were being forced to wait up to eight hours in emergency bays to unload passengers and leaving them unable to respond to additional calls for service.

“We’re running out of ambulances, and our response to 911 calls is  getting longer and longer,” she said.

And on Thursday healthcare workers spoke with CBS Los Angeles about what they’re seeing on the frontlines.

“Today’s been really difficult,” Tonya Senior, a nurse at Cedars-Sinai. “Things are really bad. We’re overwhelmed, we’re stressed, we’re stretched so thin.”

“We are admitting patients faster than we discharge them,” Charlotte Guevarra, a nurse at Cedars-Sinai, said. “In this battle, we are so outnumbered.”

Ferrer also urged people to celebrate the coming of the New Year at home with only those they live with and avoid all gatherings — regardless of size.

“All it takes is one slip to have one exposure and the coronavirus has found another host, another victim, and our dangerous surge continues,” she said. “We’re pleading with all of you, everyone in L.A. County, to avoid gatherings of any kind.”

Ferrer said the daily positivity rate in L.A. County was running at about 22%, and said that the current surge would continue into January.