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Monica Bushman, Lita Martinez, Megan Nguyen and Jackie Fortiér contributed to this story
California is approaching a grim milestone: 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.
And the state’s 14-day average positivity rate is now 12.3%. It’s the highest it’s ever been.
In an update Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom warned that unless Californians start exercising more caution, we could see:
“A wave on top of a wave where we are today, on top of once again, another wave in the middle and last part of January and February because of Kwanzaa, because of Christmas and because of New Year.”
Newsom also said that as of Thursday – Christmas Eve – Virgin Atlantic, Delta and their partners will start requiring negative COVID-19 tests for people on all direct flights from London Heathrow Airport to West Coast airports. This is due to a new, more contagious strain of the virus appearing in England.
JUMP TO: LOS ANGELES COUNTY | ORANGE LAND | SAN BERNARDINO | VENTURA
Note: Trends in the charts in California and local counties are current until Tuesday.
We check in with counties around Southern California to get an idea of the state of the pandemic in their community.
How serious is the situation? A coalition across SoCal came together late on Wednesday to issue a joint letter:
LOS ANGELES LAND
Los Angeles County has broken another sober COVID-19 record. Health officials reported a further 145 deaths on Wednesday. It is now the county’s highest death toll in a single day; the previous record was set just last week.
On Tuesday, the county passed 9,000 COVID-19 deaths in total. The county also confirmed more than 16,500 new cases of coronavirus, with over 6,100 COVID-positive patients now in need of hospital treatment.
The county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, says the attack on COVID patients is overwhelmingly local hospitals – and if residents do not follow warnings to refrain from traveling or holiday gatherings, those numbers will get even worse into the new year.
“If what happens during the winter holidays is at all the same as what happened, or even half of what happened during the Thanksgiving holiday, we are in deep trouble,” Ferrer said.
She also said there are currently fewer than three dozen adult ICU beds available for COVID patients throughout LA County. But there is a little bit of progress that involves LA County’s “R rate” – that’s how many people a person infected with the virus will infect. Right now it’s 1.1. It’s still not good, but it’s a little better than last week’s 1.2.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Over the past week, Los Angeles County health officials reported an average of 15,459 new coronavirus cases daily.
- That average daily deaths from COVID stood at 94 in LA County and 281 across the country.
- A staggering 6,155 people are currently hospitalized with COVID, and 20% of them are in the ICUs spread across the county’s 80 emergency care hospitals.
New cases last week peaked at 108,200, threatening to push Los Angeles County’s entire health care system to the breaking point.
Crews are building a 50-bed mobile field hospital at UC Irvine Medical Center to handle the record-breaking increase in COVID-19 patients.
It is one of three such tent-like facilities that go up in hospitals in Orange County.
Of the nearly 1,900 people admitted to the county on Wednesday, 394 are in the ICU.
Dr. Shruti Gohil, an infectious disease specialist at UCI Medical Center, said this week that they have had more than 100 COVID-19 patients every day for the past few weeks.
“Day after day after day, these numbers just aren’t getting any better,” Gohil said. “So if I could just impress someone, you know, make your Christmas and New Year as limited as possible in terms of the interactions you have.”
Orange County reported more than 4,400 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday and 2 deaths. The county reported its highest daily number ever – 4,606 – this past Sunday.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTRY
San Bernardino County reported 2,578 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 20 deaths. The county now leads the state with new infections per. 100,000 inhabitants over the last 7 days and has an average of 1,816 cases.
Currently, 8 of the county’s 17 major hospitals have 0% ICU capacity.
“Our real concern is that this has gone so long that many of our people just no longer follow the rules and no longer listen,” said San Bernardino, director of public health, Corwin Porter. “And that’s what really worries us … we’re doing our best to test and contact traces and vaccinate right now. But there are so many people who are still spreading the virus and not taking the precautions.”
Porter says the transmission of the virus has become so widespread that almost every part of San Bernardino County is a hot spot right now.
COVID-19 admissions in Ventura County topped 300 for the first time last weekend. As of Wednesday, there were 327 hospitalized coronavirus patients. ICU capacity is down to 0% and the county’s infection rate is trending upwards.
Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin says that’s what makes big gatherings like the one actor Kirk Cameron organized outside the Oaks Mall Tuesday night in Thousand Oaks so worrying.
Video footage of Christmas singers protesting against the regional residence order showed very few people wearing masks or social distance.
“Some of these people at these gatherings often criticize us – the county government and public health – for closing businesses,” Levin said. “Businesses are closed as a direct result of their activities.”
Ventura County reported 751 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday and 8 deaths.