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Will LA County Bring Back Emergency Hospitals?

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The L.A. Convention Center is being converted into a field hospital to be managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in case of an influx of COVIC-19 patients. (Via L.A. Mayor's Twitter account)
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As cases surge and hospitals are pushed to their max capacity, one question we've heard a lot: Why hasn't L.A. County triggered emergency field hospitals?

Remember, early in the pandemic they were set up at places such as the L.A. Convention Center and the USNS Mercy, which docked at the Port of L.A.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told us Wednesday that they're not ruling out opening those sites in the future. Right now, however, she says the main issue is making sure hospitals have enough staff:

"The easiest place to expand capacity — what we call surge capacity — is at an existing hospital where there's a large infrastructure in place. Patients that come in all need labs, they need x-rays, etc. So you can imagine the infrastructure that's already at the hospital that supports your patients is really essential for treating all your patients."

Ferrer said many hospitals have set up tents on their own property to help deal with overflow patients. She also said L.A. County has sent a request to the state for more hospital staff.
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The county today recorded the highest single-day numbers for new deaths, 138, and new cases over the past 24 hours, more than 21,000, though that number includes a backlog of about 7,000 cases.

Listen to the full interview:


OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS:

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Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more, visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. County or any other California county that interests you. These numbers were current as of Wednesday, Dec. 16, and do not include today's updates:

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