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The Coronavirus outbreak in Los Angeles County continues to worsen and health officials are reiterating that further lockdowns could be implemented if current measures do not yield a reduction in infections.

During a Wednesday briefing, County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the disease continues to damage minority and poor communities at a disproportionate rate and that if record infection rates continue, more drastic steps will be necessary to bring the disease under control.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported the highest number of new hospitalizations in a day with 2,193 people currently hospitalized, surpassing Tuesday’s number.

Out of the 2,193 confirmed COVID-19 cases currently hospitalized, 26% of these people are confirmed cases in the ICU and 17% are confirmed cases on ventilators.

She said Los Angeles County is in an alarming and dangerous phase of the pandemic and behavior from weeks ago is now showing up in data that is forcing officials to consider a rollback of the county’s reopening efforts.

“These alarming trends reflect behaviors from three weeks ago and it will take several weeks to see if our behavior now, including the rollback of previously open sectors, slows the spread of the virus,” she said. “What we do today impacts our lives in the weeks, and the months ahead. We’re just not able to continue on our recovery journey, without everyone doing their part. Keeping businesses open is only possible if we can get back to slowing the spread. And we do need to remember that all of us play a part in protecting the capacity of our healthcare system so that we’re all able to access critical care when we need it.”

Of the 44 new deaths, 27 people who died were over the age of 65 years old, 13 people who died were between the ages of 41 and 65 years old, and one person who died was between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. Thirty-four people had underlying health conditions including 25 people over the age of 65 years old, eight people between the ages of 41 to 65 years old, and one person between the ages of 18 to 40 years old. Two deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach and one death was reported by the City of Pasadena. 3,932 people have died in total.

She said officials have all options at their disposal including reimplementing the strict lockdowns experienced earlier this year.

“We can’t take anything off the table,” she said. “There’s, there’s absolutely no certainty of what exactly is going to happen next. We do know for a fact though that we have to do everything we can to protect the healthcare system for everybody, not just for people who are sick with COVID-19 but people who have other illnesses that require care in a hospital setting, and in other health care facilities as well.”

She said the county has the ability to arrest the new virus growth and said county residents were successful and slowing the spread earlier this year despite knowing less about the disease at that time.

“We know how important it is to wear those face coverings. We know how important it is to keep our distance from other people. We know how important it is to do basic infection control, and we know how important it is for those businesses that are open right now to protect their workers their customers and their visitors,” she said. “These are things that are for certain, and it’s for certain that if we do a really good job on implementing all the tools that we have at hand, we can get back to slowing the spread and that makes it much less likely that we return to Safer At Home.”

Ferrer said if the current efforts do not work in the very short term, the county will have to dig deeper into its toolbox regarding what should be open and what should be closed.

She said she expected to see an increase in deaths in the coming weeks given the record setting number of hospitalizations.

“What this really means for all of us is that we need to start and continue to take the steps to protect our healthcare infrastructure, so that hospitals are able to manage the growing number of people that need inpatient care,” she said. “That is why it’s so important to follow the public health directives, like staying home, avoiding close contact with people who you don’t live with, and wearing your face covering at all times when you’re out of your house.”

editor@smdp.com