Hospitalizations Surpass 8,000 For First Time In PandemicBy CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Wednesday reported 11,841 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 258 deaths, bringing countywide totals to 852,165 cases and 11,328 deaths.

Community Organized Relief Effort volunteers provide guidance for people doing self-test kits at the drive-thru testing at the Dodger Stadium COVID-19 testing site. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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Health officials also reported there were 8,023 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Wednesday, 20% of whom were being treated in intensive care units. On Nov. 1, the three-day average for daily COVID-19 hospitalizations was 791. Just two months later, on Jan. 4, the three-day average had increased to 7,873.

The department said hospitals were accepting more patients that they were able to discharge, causing a strain on the county’s emergency medical system.

“This is a health crisis of epic proportions,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “I am more troubled than ever before, and in part, my concern is rooted in the reality that it will take so much more for us to slow the spread given the high rate of community spread.”

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At Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles, almost every single patient in the ICU is on ventilator.

“These are younger, healthier patients who are dying,” Dr. Roger Christensen, a critical care physician, said. “They may not be the picture of health but certainly somebody who is walking around with diabetes is not expected to die from a viral pneumonia.”

With testing results available for nearly 4,850,000 individuals, the county’s overall positivity rate had increased to 17%. The daily positivity rate has increased from 3.8% on Nov. 1 to 21.8% Wednesday, meaning one in five people who are tested have COVID-19 and can expose others to it.

Health officials also said the department was continuing its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, with a total of 185,250 doses received as of Monday, of which 100,556 have been administered to frontline healthcare workers at acute care hospitals.

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As of Wednesday, 1,602 healthcare workers were fully vaccinated after receiving the second dose.