By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Public Health Department reported 6,509 new cases of COVID-19, over double the previous day’s total.

“Today I am regrettably reporting 6,500 new cases, representing more than double yesterday’s case count,” said public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer during Wednesday’s briefing. “This steep increase, one of the steepest rises we’ve ever seen over the course of the pandemic reflects the increased circulation of Omicron and the associated rapid acceleration of transmission associated with this variant.”

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Out of over 6,500 new cases, 162 have been confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. On Tuesday, the county reported four new cases of Omicron. Public health also reported 16 new deaths.

“Although hospitalizations have stayed relatively stable at this time, they are known to be lagging indicators,” said Ferrer.

There are currently 748 people currently hospitalized. According to hospital workers that spoke to CBSLA, most of the patients with severe cases are unvaccinated.

According to Ferrer, the daily test positivity rate doubled in nearly a week.

“Our test positivity has now jumped to 4.5 %,” Ferrer said. “Just last Thursday test positivity was 1.9%. These numbers make it crystal clear that we are headed to a very challenging time over the holiday.”

Ferrer warned that if this trend continued case numbers may rise well above 20,000 by the end of the year.

The public health department also pushed for residents to receive their boosters to gain full protection from COVID-19. Those who are fully vaccinated and boosted are 20 times more protected from the virus compared to only four times more protected than without a booster, according to Public Health data from Dec. 5 to Dec. 11.

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Nearby hospitals are preparing for the worse as some of their own are contracting the virus.

“We do see our own staff getting sick,” said Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital operations executive Mara Bryant. “We have a doubling of our own staff that tested positive today versus yesterday and most of it from family gatherings on the outside.”

Bryant also said that the hospital has prepared for a possible winter surge, contemplating using the overflow tents which were set up last year.

“We’re preparing to have 200 patients again,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be over-prepared and we won’t need any of those resources but we would much rather be safe.”

With the holidays quickly approaching, many residents are scrambling to get tested before their parties and gatherings.

“We’ve been scrambling to find COVID tests at Walgreens and CVS which we’ve been unable to find,” said Andrea Maury.  “My daughter and my oldest son are going to be going to their grandma’s house who is requiring that they get tests — which I appreciate.”

The surge has derailed some residents’ holiday plans with some canceling trips.

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“One of my brothers popped positive and also exposed my mother at the same time and now there’s not much of a reason to go because we can’t visit them,” said resident Marissa Passer