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COVID-19 toll deepens in Los Angeles County as more than 5,000 die in less than a month

Memorial Hospital
In 24 days, 5,106 people have died in Los Angeles County from COVID-19, while just over 10,000 died in the previous nine months. Hospital ICU capacity remains at 0% in Southern California, while places such as Memorial Hospital of Gardena were operating at 320% occupancy in mid-January.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

In less than a month, Los Angeles County has recorded more than 5,000 COVID-19 related deaths, a pace that highlights the rampant and ruthless spread of the virus throughout the county.

In the roughly nine months between the first reported death on March 11 and the end of last year, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus killed just over 10,000 people in the county. In the 24 days since, the pace of deaths accelerated dramatically with 5,106 people killed.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s official death toll stands at 15,162 after 269 deaths and 10,537 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Saturday. Overall, the county’s confirmed case total reached 1,064,887.

“We wish healing and peace to everyone mourning a loved one lost to COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County director of public health, said in a statement. “Many people continue to spread this virus and, tragically, now more than 15,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.”

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Of Saturday’s deaths, 62% of the deceased were 65 and older — an at-risk demographic that county officials are struggling to vaccinate quickly against the virus.

The county also reported 6,881 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized with 24% needing intensive care. Those figures offered something of a silver lining as they mark the first time the county has dipped below 7,000 hospitalizations since Dec. 29.

However, hospital ICU capacity remains at 0% in Southern California.

“While we are seeing some positive data in daily new cases and hospitalizations, we are far from out of the woods,” Ferrer said. “It is critically important we slow COVID-19 spread to decompress the strain on our healthcare system and save lives.”

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She added, “Please continue to adhere to all of the safety measures to protect yourself and others: staying home as much as possible, wearing a face covering, avoiding gatherings, keeping your distance, and washing your hands frequently.”

On Saturday, the county also reported eight new cases of a serious inflammatory illness that attacks children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the illness, known as MIS-C, is associated with COVID-19 and causes body parts and vital organs to become badly inflamed. Children can experience symptoms such as “abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes” and fatigue.

There are currently 62 cases in the county with Latinos accounting for nearly 74% of all infections. There has been one death.

Each child with MIS-C has been hospitalized with 45% of children being admitted to the ICU.

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In Orange County, 78 deaths and 2,725 new COVID-19 infections were reported Saturday, bringing the area’s total to 221,493 total cases and 2,625 fatalities, according to the county’s health care agency.

There are currently 1,818 patients hospitalized, with 482 of those people requiring intensive care.

Between Jan. 10 and Jan. 16, Orange County also reported 31 COVID-19 infections tied to county schools. Eleven students, 11 staff members and nine teachers became infected with most cases stemming from elementary and middle schools.

Since mid-August, 1,229 Orange County students, 490 teachers and 399 staff members have contracted COVID-19.

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The county has also reported that 152,368 people in total have since recovered from the virus.


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