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LA County Adds 14K COVID-19 Cases As SoCal ICU Availability Drops To Zero

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Thursday reported 14,418 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 102 additional deaths, bringing countywide totals to 580,325 cases and 8,664 deaths.

Los Angeles Is Now Worst-Hit U.S. Metro Area For Covid-19 Cases
A patient wearing a protective mask exits the emergency room and walks towards a Covid-19 isolation tent at Temecula Valley Hospital in Temecula, California, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Greater Los Angeles is emerging as America's hardest hit metropolitan area as Covid-19 sweeps across California like never before. Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Health officials also reported 4,864 coronavirus patients were hospitalized, 20% of whom were being treated in intensive care units.

And as the pandemic continues to surge, officials said the number of available intensive care unit beds in L.A. County had plummeted to 92 — 10 fewer than Wednesday.

According to the state, the Southern California region had zero available ICU capacity as of Thursday.

"What we hear from some of our hospital partners is that many of them are making adjustments in terms of, you know, leaving out elective procedures that are being done in their facilities," Dr. Muntu Davis, county health officer, said. "Many of them are implementing their surge plans to take on more patients and trying to increase staffing."

Davis said that while he could not speak about the specific plans being implemented at L.A. County hospitals to care for the crush of incoming patients, he said they will be getting assistance from the state.

"The state has developed, over many years, a group to look at what it may mean to think about, you know, making choices about how you utilize scarce resources," he said. "Providers are very good at thinking about and making assessments on patients, and whether or not they should be in the hospital or not, as well as in terms of when they should be transferred out.

"The system will have to make adjustments and work through that," Davis continued. "But I trust our healthcare providers to think through what's best for our patients given what they have in front of them."

Davis and other health officials said the biggest choice facing L.A. County in the fight against the latest surge in the pandemic is one that individuals must make to stay home when possible, wear a face covering while in public and keep social distancing.

"We are now learning a very painful lesson that, despite how much we want things to go back to normal, this virus is relentless and will continue to spread, make people very ill, and tragically lead to people passing away," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, public health director, said. "We can't afford another holiday season surge that will further overwhelm our already strained hospitals and healthcare staff. We must all work together to prevent as much death as possible."

Of the 102 new deaths reported Thursday, 43 people were over the age of 80, 26 people were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, 18 people were between the ages of 50 and 64 years old and 11 people were between the ages of 30 and 49 years old.


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