More than 20,000 new COVID cases reported in L.A. County amid ongoing surge

KNX 1070 News Radio
KNX 1070 News Radio

LOS ANGELES (KNX) — Los Angeles County officials are warning all Angelenos to rethink their New Year’s Eve plans as an alarming surge of COVID-19 cases continues. On Thursday, officials reported 20,198 new cases — one of the highest numbers seen over the last two years — and 24 new deaths.

“This is more than triple the number of new cases we reported last week,” Barbara Ferrer, director of L.A. Public Health, said. “And it brings the total number of cases in L.A. [to date] to 1,669,545. Again, a staggering increase.”

While hospitalizations remain lower than what was seen during L.A.'s 2020 winter surge, Ferrer said it's absolutely necessary to monitor the explosion of cases due to its impact on local healthcare facilities.

Based on data collected in the last week, Ferrer said Angelenos in between 18 and 49 years old are most likely to get infected and therefore spread COVID to others, with adults in the age group accounting for more than 70% of all cases seen in the week ending on Dec. 28.

Test kits:
Ferrer said 1.4 million over-the-counter test (OTC) kits were provided to L.A. County by the state and will be distributed in January to public schools with partners at the Office of Education.

Already, Ferrer said, Public Health has distributed 700,000 OTC test kits to residents of high-need communities.

While the tests are convenient, the county health officials said people may still have symptoms after testing negative. If this happens they are advised to isolate until they can take a PCR test that also comes back negative.

Health officials continue to urge Angelenos to "upgrade" their masks if they continue to wear cloth face coverings.

"Given what's going on, we particularly want to encourage employers to provide employees with higher-grade masks whenever possible," Ferrer said. "With a surgical mask or surgical mask that they can then put a cloth mask over...because we know that this is airborne, we're in the winter and a higher quality mask does a better job at filtering out the particles."

Stress on healthcare workers
When asked if there is an increase in the number of medical staff contracting COVID-19, Ferrer said that like we've seen across the United States — there are staff shortages both related to burnout and the coronavirus.

"Yes, like everywhere, we have healthcare workers testing positive. And it is, in fact, going to compound issues and create stress at our healthcare systems," Ferrer said, though she made clear that the cases aren't specific to work-related cases.

"While there may be a lot of protections for workers at the worksite, we all live in our communities and we all have other exposures in our community."

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