Dec. 28, 2020 -- Health officials are painting a dire picture of an after-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases as the country struggles with a post-Thanksgiving spike in coronavirus cases. Los Angeles County is finding its health care system overwhelmed as the death toll rises.
“A person now dies every 10 minutes in L.A. County from COVID-19 - and since many of these deaths are preventable, our collective focus should be on doing right to save lives,” Barbara Ferrer, LA County director of public health, said in a news release. “I hope we can each find the strength and courage to take responsibility for each other's well-being. Follow the public health directives. These are the only tools that will work right now."
On Christmas Eve, a record 148 COVID-related deaths were reported in LA County, the health department said. The next day, a record 6,708 COVID patients were hospitalized, with about 20% of them in ICU. In just a week, the number of hospitalizations went up by 1,600.
Case counts have been spiking after national holidays, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Anthony Fauci, MD had predicted the post-Thanksgiving spike would extend through Christmas. Having Thanksgiving and Christmas only a month apart creates more worries for government officials, especially since so many ignored CDC warnings to not travel and visit their families because of the pandemic.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video posted on Facebook and Twitter that hospitalizations in the state could double in the next 30 days if current trends continue.
“We could have a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge in January and February,” he said.
California’s COVID dashboard indicated that 19,771 coronavirus patients were hospitalized across the state as of December 25, with 4,035 of them in ICU. There were 1,387 available ICU beds across the state.
The number of deaths was felt across the nation, noted a Dec. 23 blog on the COVID Tracking Project.
“As of today, December is already the deadliest month since the beginning of the pandemic in the United States. The 3,379 deaths states and territories reported today pushed December’s total to 57,638 COVID-19 deaths, for an average of 2,506 deaths reported per day in December. For comparison, in April, when the country was still reeling from the pandemic’s initial surge, we saw an average of 1,842 deaths reported each day.”
Deaths are rising in nine states --- Alaska, Alabama, California, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and New York -- falling in 22 states, and staying the same in 20 states.
Over the previous week, a daily average of 117,029 people were hospitalized with COVID in the United States -- a number that has risen steadily since September, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Almost 119,000 people were hospitalized on Dec. 25.
Hospitalizations are going up in nine states -- California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, New York, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont -- dropping in eight states, and staying the same in 34 states.
Globally, almost 81 million cases of coronavirus and nearly 1.8 million deaths have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The most cases have been reported in the United States (19.1 million), followed by India (10.2 million) and Brazil (7.5 million). The United States has the most deaths (333,000), followed by Brazil (191,000) and India (147,900).