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L.A. County surpasses 400,000 coronavirus cases, hits record number of hospitalizations

Shoppers on Monday at Plaza Mexico, a mall in Lynwood.
Shoppers on Monday at Plaza Mexico, a mall in Lynwood. New restrictions limit malls to 20% capacity.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County hit two new troubling milestones in the battle with COVID-19 on Monday, surpassing 400,000 cumulative coronavirus cases and breaking a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The county surpassed its previous all-time high of 2,232 hospitalizations set on July 18. On Sunday, the county recorded a total of 2,316 people in its hospitals with confirmed coronavirus infections, according to data released Monday. The rate of increasing hospitalizations in L.A. County has been breathtaking: tripling from a total of 777 recorded on Halloween.

“The increases we’re seeing now are not sustainable. They’re not sustainable, because they’re gonna overwhelm not just our healthcare system, but the entire state’s healthcare system,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday.

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She added that the county is in “the most difficult moment in the pandemic.”

The county recorded 5,569 new coronavirus cases Monday, the second-highest number recorded in a single day, according to a Times independent tally of cases.

“We don’t really have any choice but to use all the tools at hand to stop the surge,” Ferrer said during a briefing. “Until there is a vaccine, each of us needs to protect all of those around us — both those we know and those we don’t. The virus is running rampant through almost every part of our county.”

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

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Officials in L.A. County rolled out a targeted ‘safer-at-home’ order that is in effect through Dec. 20. It closes public playgrounds; sets new capacity limits on retail stores, outdoor museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums; and prohibits all gatherings among people from different households, except for outdoor religious services and political demonstrations. Those limitations are on top of restrictions that went into effect last week, including a controversial renewed ban on outdoor dining.

Though she acknowledged the disruption hat comes with new restrictions, Ferrer said health officials have tried to be more targeted in their efforts to slow the spread of the disease. But, she said, the county can’t sit idly by as conditions worsen — particularly in terms of the healthcare system.

“So we’re going to have to do everything we can, and hopefully everyone gets on board with this,” Ferrer said. “It’s three weeks. We’ve done this for much longer in the past and with many more restrictions.”


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