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One COVID-19 patient is dying every 10 minutes in Los Angeles County as officials fear post-Christmas surge

Health officials fear post-holiday COVID rise
COVID-19 cases are trending down, but officials fear post-Christmas surge 02:50

Los Angeles is being severely impacted from a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases, as Americans across the country gather for Christmas despite health warnings. 

The city has seen a four-fold increase in cases, with patients dying at the rate of one every ten minutes in Los Angeles County.

The news comes as millions of Americans show no signs they will heed health officials and ring in the New Year safely, and the number of coronavirus cases across the U.S. is pushing doctors and nurses to the limit.

More than 7 million people cleared the Transportation Security Administration for flights out of U.S. airports in the week before Christmas, CBS News' Michael George reports.

The number is less than half the number of travelers from 2019, but still outpaced Thanksgiving travel volume, the previous record-high since the pandemic began.

"If what happens over the winter holiday break is at all the same as what happened or even half of what happened over the Thanksgiving holiday, we're in deep trouble," Los Angeles County public health official Dr. Barbara Ferrer warned.

Dr. Stephen Patterson, who works at a hospital in nearby Riverside, said the rise in cases also saw a significant change in patient demographics.

"We are still seeing a great number of those individuals that are part of our vulnerable populations — the elderly, those with chronic illnesses," Patterson said. "But, we are also seeing people who are in the 20s and 30s and early 40s."

Although new vaccines have shown promise in the fight against the pandemic, Patterson urged Americans to think about their day-to-day actions and their effects.

"Think about those decisions that you make — 'Will I take my mask off here, or will I decide that I would like to go out to eat here,' and those kinds of things, which can increase the risk that you yourself could bring that home to your family or that you could bring it home to a loved one," he said. 

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