COVID-19: Anticipated holiday surge begins

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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials announced the anticipated holiday surge in cases has begun, though Monday’s figures reflected delays in reporting, as an additional 10 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the Santa Clarita Valley through the weekend. 

The surge is expected to continue for weeks as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and returning travelers, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

“It took 10 months to hit 400,000 cases, but we have reached another 400,000 within the last month alone,” county 1st District Supervisor Hilda Solis said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing. “That is a human disaster, and one that was avoidable, but I need to underscore that it could be worse. The situation is already beyond our imagination, but it could become beyond comprehension if the health restrictions in place are not fully obeyed.”

The Southern California region’s available intensive care unit capacity has remained at 0.0% for more than two weeks, leaving the region’s hospitals in a constant surge state. 

On Sunday, L.A. County saw a slight decrease in hospitalizations from 7,627 Saturday to 7,544, though that figure once again began increasing Monday, with a reported 7,697 hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Public Health. 

Over the weekend, the Santa Clarita Valley also saw more than 500 new COVID-19 diagnoses, with 334 reported Saturday and 193 on Sunday, while county Public Health officials also updated the death count for the SCV Sunday, bringing the local death toll to up to 129 from 119 at the end of last week.

In addition, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported six additional deaths related to COVID-19, one on Saturday and five on Monday. It is unclear whether those deaths have been added to Public Health’s tallies.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday more details on one of the next vaccination phases, named phase 1C, which is expected to include people 65 years or older, anyone over the age of 16 with significant underlying health conditions or disability, and more essential workers, which include:

  • Water and waste management.
  • Defense.
  • Energy.
  • Communication and information technology.
  • Financial services.
  • Chemicals/hazardous materials.
  • Government ops/community service.

Phase 1A put frontline health care workers as the top priority of the vaccine, followed by staff and residents of long-term care facilities, while phase 1B, which is expected to be rolled out next, focused on those 75 years or older and frontline essential workers, including first responders, teachers and grocery store workers, among others.

L.A. County is expecting to receive a shipment of 82,745 Pfizer vaccinations, the second doses for health care workers at acute care hospitals, as well as 50,700 Moderna vaccinations, per Public Health.

L.A. County Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Monday:

ICU capacity for Southern California: 0.0%

New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 9,142, reflecting closure of testing site and delays in holiday reporting.
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 827,498

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 77, reflecting a lag in reporting over the holiday weekend.
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 10,850

Hospitalizations countywide: 7,697; 20% of whom are in the ICU.
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Jan. 4: 98, with 722 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 236, 182 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 17,919
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Jan. 3: 129, with six additional deaths reported by Henry Mayo.

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: 12,725
Unincorporated – Acton: 289
Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 142
Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 27
Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 526
Unincorporated – Castaic: 3,023 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)
Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 25
Unincorporated – Newhall: 57
Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 0
Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 8
Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 10
Unincorporated – Saugus: 91
Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 28
Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 659
Unincorporated – Val Verde: 199
Unincorporated – Valencia: 110

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