By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Reported cases of the novel coronavirus across Los Angeles County have surged in the past weeks—and officials warn that the worst is yet to come.
“This is likely to be the worst month of the pandemic in LA County,” according to Public Health. “The surge from holiday gatherings is here, and cases will increase due to parties and travelers returning to LA County.”
In over a month LA County has seen the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 double—going from 400,000 cases on November 30 to over 800,000 cases on January 2. Since November 1, cases have increased by 905%.
“Currently more than one in five people who get tested are positive, and this helps explain why there is so much risk when you socialize with people you don’t live with,” Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
As the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday, January 5, Public Health had identified 840,611 positive cases of COVID-19 across the county when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena, with a total of 11,071 deaths.
Public Health reported the high number of COVID-19 cases has strained the health system across the county, leaving intensive care units at 0% available capacity.
“[It] is distressing not only for those who have COVID-19, but for all others in the county who need acute care during this time. People who have a stroke or heart attack or who experience a traumatic injury from a car crash are finding it more difficult to access care compared to usual times,” according to Public Health.
Palisadian and medical director of urgent care at Providence Saint John’s Health Center Anita Gorwara shares her own experience on-site.
“A regular day, pre-COVID, I did physicals and follow-ups for regular office visits, normal regular healthcare,” Gorwara said to the Post. “Now we’re inundated with patients who either have COVID, have been exposed to COVID or want testing for COVID.
“My volume in urgent care, which was 25 to 50 patients a day, is now 70 to 100.”
Gorwara said the staff around her was slowly getting sick with COVID, and she was one of the last ones standing: “I was either going to get COVID or I was going to get the vaccine, I made it to the vaccine, so it was a great feat.”
LA County began receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses, Pfizer and Moderna, December 14. Gorwara received her vaccine Friday, December 18.
“It was a day science came together, the world came together and did something to put this pandemic behind us,” Gorwara said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Groups including hospital staff, residents and staff at nursing facilities, and emergency medical technicians and paramedics have started to receive the vaccine. According to Public Health, the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for everyone and offered to different groups in phases.
There is no specific timeline yet for the general public, it is likely to be available in spring or summer of this year.
“Regardless of vaccination or not, wearing your mask and social distancing is probably the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and the community,” Gorwara said as a piece of advice. “Not hosting large parties or gatherings is important at this time because that’s basically where these cases are coming out of.
“As long as you keep doing that … you’ll be able to protect yourself.”
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Pacific Palisades had reached 506, with 92 additional in the Palisades Highlands, as the Post went to print Tuesday evening.
Five deaths have been reported in the Palisades.
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