Health officials are warning that Los Angeles County may soon see up to 1,000 coronavirus deaths per week after revealing that as many as one in five residents who are getting tested are turning up positive
“Your bubble is not as safe as you think it is,” LA Public Health tweeted on Monday. “Don’t meet up with those outside your household.”
Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer later said community spread is so high in the region, “you run the risk of an exposure whenever you leave your home,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “Assume that this deadly invisible virus is everywhere, looking for a willing host.”
California’s health system is overrun with the virus and in need of supplies such as oxygen and additional beds. In Los Angeles in particular, the emergency medical services agency issued a directive that ambulances should stop transporting patients to hospitals if they have virtually no chance of surviving. Funeral homes are also feeling the strain and being forced to turn families away.
“I’ve been in the funeral industry for 40 years and never in my life did I think that this could happen, that I’d have to tell a family, ‘No, we can’t take your family member,'” Magda Maldonado, owner of Continental Funeral Home in Los Angeles, told the Associated Press.
And with many ignoring warnings about avoiding travel and holiday gatherings, the situation is likely to only get worse.
“This is likely to be the worst month of the pandemic in LA County,” LA Public Health tweeted Monday. “The surge from holiday gatherings is here and cases will increase due to parties and travelers returning to LA County. We must use the tools we have to prevent more suffering and death and protect frontline workers.”
Ferrer warned that the region may soon see as many as 1,000 deaths per week if hospitalizations and new cases continue to trend upward at a lightning pace. The region has nearly 7,700 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 and is reporting a death rate of 99 per 100,000. In total, the county – largely considered the epicenter of California’s crisis – has recorded over 787,000 cases of the virus and nearly 10,300 deaths.
Much hope has been hinged on the arrival of recently developed vaccines, but as of Tuesday California had seen just 1% of the state receive their first dose of the two-shot jab.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.