LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Wednesday reported 10,392 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 274 deaths, the highest one-day death toll since the beginning of the pandemic.
L.A. County has now recorded 756,116 coronavirus cases and 10,056 deaths from the disease so far.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said the county is now averaging 150 newly reported COVID-19 deaths per day — nearly equivalent to the average number of people who die of all other causes in the county on a daily basis.
"Most heartbreaking is that if we had done a better job reducing transmission of the virus, many of these deaths would not have happened," she said.
Because of the high number of deaths, Supervisor Hilda Solis said the California National Guard has been called in to help the overwhelmed coroner's office with management and administrative functions.
"Our medical examiner is taking overflow of bodies from hospitals that don't have room to store them," she said. "And my understanding is that the medical examiner will receive assistance for their operations from the California National Guard, and we're expecting them by next Monday. It's such a grim reality, but I'm compelled to say this because it has gotten to the point that we need to show the true toll of what this virus has taken and can take."
According to the latest state numbers, 7,546 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus in L.A. County, a record, about 20% of whom were being treated in intensive care units and 18% of whom were on ventilators.
Of those who deaths were reported Wednesday, 95 people were over the age of 80, 99 people were between the ages of 65 and 79, 44 people were between the ages of 50 and 64, 11 people were between the ages of 30 and 49 and one person was between the ages of 18 and 29.
The high number of deaths, again, was due in part to a backlog in reports from the Spectrum outage that hit Christmas Day and lags in reporting due to the holiday, officials said.
Also on Wednesday, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn reached out to the state demanding that hospital ship USNS Mercy return to the county.
"And when I heard words like rationing care and triaging care in our hospitals, I knew we were at a point that was bad."
Though the ship would not be able to take on COVID-19 patients, Hahn said the 1,000 hospital beds and additional medical staff could help alleviate stress on the local healthcare system.
Health officials also reported that the new variant has not yet been found in Los Angeles County, though Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier that it had been found in Southern California.
"This doesn't mean that the variant is not circulating in L.A. County," Ferrer said. "We have thousands and thousands of people getting tested every day, and we're just able to sample a small number of those test results and do the gene sequencing.
"What it means is that, as of right now, we didn't find this variant in the first set of samples," she continued. "As a reminder, whether the variant is present or not present here in the county, it doesn't change the need for all of us to use the strategies that we have available right now to limit exposure and spread of the virus."
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