County reports over 5,000 COVID-19 hospitizations; mass-vaccination effort begins


L.A. County Department of Public Health officials announced another record-breaking number in patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 Friday as a mass vaccination effort began and the Southern California region’s available intensive care unit capacity remained at 0%.

As of Friday, 5,100 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, and four additional cases of MIS-C in children were reported, bringing the total MIS-C cases in the county to 49, and one death. The county also reported more than 16,000 new cases and 96 deaths related to COVID-19.

The county Health Services Department said a mass vaccination effort began Friday and will have 6,000 health care workers vaccinated by Christmas, and an additional 4,000 vaccinated by New Year’s Day.

“We were able to vaccinate a large number of health care workers already,” said Christina Ghaly, director of L.A. County Health Services. “We’re now able to begin large vaccinations for health care workers who are in high-risk exposure areas and are in the high-risk health category.”

Paul Giboney, associate chief medical officer of L.A. County Health Services, said the county is expecting another shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine within a couple of days, and each vial contains about six doses of the vaccine.

“We follow guidance from the (Centers for Disease Control) and the guidance we’ve been receiving instructs us to make sure we’re vaccinating our highest-risk health care members. After that we’ll be rapidly moving to vaccinate other health care staff,” Giboney said.

In light of what Public Health officials have called “overwhelming” COVID-19 figures, including L.A. County’s record-breaking report of 22,422 new daily cases on Wednesday, a coalition of L.A.-based health care, labor and community groups is urging the county Board of Supervisors to implement a “circuit breaker” — a strict four-week countywide lockdown aimed at significantly slowing transmission of the virus, while paying workers who would be out of work during that period.

“We urge you to immediately call for state and federal funds to allow L.A. County to have a true lockdown, one that prioritizes the lives of everyone — particularly essential workers and working families — over comfort and convenience,” read a letter to the county supervisors. 

The union coalition emphasizes that among those most at risk of infection are “essential workers, poor people and people of color” as many cannot afford to miss work. The “true lockdown” would lower COVID-19 but would require implementing a series of safety nets such as suspending mortgage and rent payments, more free testing and treatment, direct payments to subsidize lost wages, paid leave and free meals. 

Among the 15 signatures on the letter were the National Union of Healthcare Workers, United Teachers Los Angeles, Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 and Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

Public Health officials released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Friday, while Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported an additional two deaths, amounting to 17 deaths since Dec. 7:

Southern California available ICU capacity: 0%

COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County: 16,504

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 596,721

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 96

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 8,757

Hospitalizations countywide: 5,100; 20% of whom are in the ICU.

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Dec. 18: 79, with 538 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 253, of which 200 came from the city of Santa Clarita.

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 13,318

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV: 99, including two deaths reported by Henry Mayo Friday.

The numbers of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, broken down into region, are as follows:

City of Santa Clarita: 9,093

Unincorporated – Acton: 194

Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 96

Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 19

Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 384

Unincorporated – Castaic: 2,675 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)

Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 18

Unincorporated – Newhall: 51

Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 0

Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 4

Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 8

Unincorporated – Saugus: 60

Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 21

Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 465

Unincorporated – Val Verde: 144

Unincorporated – Valencia: 86

To view all coronavirus-related stories, visit

Staff Writer Tammy Murga contributed to this report.

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