In a metropolitan area where one in 20 people has been infected with Covid-19, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued another warning: They, too, are dying.
“This week, every 20 minutes someone in Los Angeles County dies from Covid-19,” he tweeted, adding in a separate post that “our hospitals are getting dangerously low in intensive care unit beds. It is time to act urgently. “
Los Angeles County, the most populous in the United States with 10 million residents, said on Friday that the number of infections exceeded 500,000. They rose by 11,476 to 512,872 on Saturday after climbing a record the day before.
The county, which is also home to the highest number of infections and deaths in the US, reported 70 new deaths, bringing the total to 8,269. Garcetti said a week ago that the total number of deaths could exceed 11,000 by the end of the year.
The spike in cases came two weeks after millions of people traveled across the country over the Thanksgiving holiday, prompting county health officials to call the latest wave a “Thanksgiving surge. Thank you”. The health department said it is a “dangerous time” for its residents and warned that deaths are reaching an all-time high.
Still, deaths as a percentage of cases at 1.6% is less than the national average of 1.9%, or 2.2% globally.
Los Angeles is in the second week of its second lockdown and is part of a region of California that has imposed more restrictions during the Christmas season. Hospitalizations in the Golden State are at their highest since the outbreak began, reducing the availability of intensive care unit beds to a new low.
While the city and county were among the first in the US to close non-essential businesses during the initial outbreak in March, along with other restrictions, enforcement remains a key obstacle to containing the spread.
“Some people are not doing what we ask them to do, and I think the biggest problem we have right now is that there is so much transmission that even a small percentage of people are not taking sensible steps to protect themselves and others, it has tremendous cascading impact, ”Barbara Ferrer, a county public health officer, said in a call with reporters Friday.