More than 11,000 Los Angeles County residents have died from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the LA County Department of Public Health. Almost half – more than 5,000 – of these deaths have occurred in the past two months.
“People who otherwise led healthy and productive lives have now died due to a chance encounter with the COVID-19 virus,” LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Wednesday, adding that the county was suffering more than 200 deaths every day.
Just two weeks ago, Ferrer said there was one death every 10 minutes.
The sheer scale of hospital patients and the staggering growth rate continue to cause major problems for the community.
“Our health workers are physically and mentally exhausted and sick,” she said.
LA County ambulance teams were told not to take patients with low chances of survival to hospitals. Even when patients have the chance to make it to the hospital, they can languish outside for hours if there is no room left.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday called for help from other areas to help overwhelmed hospitals.
“We see heroes in our hospitals, we see angels in our ambulances stretched out, just to face the onslaught right now of what’s going on here at the epicenter. ”
Cases have climbed 941% since November 1, and so far the rate of new cases in January is double that of December, according to Ferrer.
Over the past two months, the positivity rate in LA County has risen from 3.8% to 21.8%.
Hospitalizations are 10 times higher than they were on November 1, and director of health services Christina Ghaly has warned that another surge is expected in the next two weeks.
More than 8,000 people are currently hospitalized, 20% of whom are in intensive care units and 19% on ventilators.
Los Angeles County hospitals are still operating in emergency care, but given the overwhelming demand, they could be forced into crisis care mode, Ghaly said. If that were to happen, patients could be transferred to other areas and all hospitals will be required to stop elective surgeries.
CNN’s Alexandra Meeks, Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan contributed to this report.