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LA County Hospital Beds Could Fill In Coming Weeks As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Predictions of daily mortality rate in L.A. County if current trend of coronavirus spread continues. (Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)
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Los Angeles county health officials warned Monday that local hospitals could reach capacity in the next two weeks as the coronavirus infects more Angelenos through newly reopened businesses and public and private spaces.

The news comes just a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars closed in Los Angeles and six other California counties because of the virus's rapid spread.

L.A. public health officials estimate that one in every 140 people in the county is infected with COVID-19 and is infectious to others, not including people who are hospitalized with the disease or those who are quarantined or isolated at home, said Dr. Robert Lewis, director of COVID-19 modeling for the department of health services. The revised infection rate is a big jump from just last week, when the county's modeling estimated one in 400 people were likely infected.

Lewis said the new estimate reflects the likely spread among people who are asymptomatic.

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“A large typical store is likely to have multiple infectious persons enter the shop every day. I'd like to emphasize that those people who are infectious to others often will have no or minimal symptoms,” Lewis said.

Officials also said nearly half of bars and 33% of the restaurants visited this past weekend by inspectors were not adhering to social distancing rules. Inspectors also found employees not wearing masks or face shields at 54% of the bars and 44% of the restaurants they visited.

Inspectors have found a large number of businesses failing to comply with guidelines set for minimizing the virus's spread as the county reopens. (Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)
L.A. County public health officials said the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, in part because people aren't complying with safety guidelines. (Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)

L.A. County health officials also said:

  • The positivity rate has jumped to 9%, meaning about 9 out of every 100 people tested for the virus has a positive result. Transmission rates are also on the rise.
  • If steps aren’t taken to increase capacity, hospitals in L.A. County will likely run out of beds in the next two weeks and intensive care unit or ICU beds in the first week of July.
  • Hospitals are already implementing surge plans, including limiting elective procedures and preparing to turn areas like emergency rooms into COVID-19 treatment areas.
  • More younger people are getting the virus. There has been a 40% increase in cases in adults 40 and under.
  • The county has enough ventilators to meet the projected need for the next four weeks.
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