COVID-19: Public Health expects ‘devastating’ figures in January

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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials are expecting “devastating” COVID-19 figures to continue in January, as the impacts of the winter holiday are felt.

“The higher the number is of new cases, the higher the number will be of people who are ending up needing care in the hospital,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a COVID-19 update during the county Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. “The more people that are hospitalized, the more people that end up dying. … So, the only hope we have to reduce the number of people in the hospital significantly right now is to reduce the number of people who test positive and are infected with the COVID-19 virus.”

Hospitals across the county are already in a “desperate” situation, according to Ferrer, while the Southern California region’s available intensive care unit capacity continued to remain at 0.0% Tuesday, as it has for more than two weeks now.

Locally, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported nearly 100 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest figure since the onset of the pandemic, while, countywide, Public Health also reported an all-time high of hospitalizations, with nearly 8,000 currently hospitalized.

Ferrer also said that Public Health is testing COVID-19 test samples to check whether the new variants found in the U.K. and in South Africa, both of which are assumed to be more contagious, have arrived in the county.

While the variant has not been found as of Tuesday, Ferrer said given the number of people testing positive, Public Health officials believe the variant is probably here in small numbers and will likely be found soon.

“(If the variant) ends up circulating here, not in small numbers like it might be now, but it actually starts dominating, then we are looking forward, unfortunately, to having a virus that is able to infect more people more quickly than what we’re seeing today, and that’s a frightening thought,” Ferrer added.

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

ICU capacity for Southern California: 0.0%

New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 13,512, reflecting closure of testing sites and delays in holiday reporting.
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 840,611

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 224, reflecting a lag in reporting over the holiday weekend.
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 11,071

Hospitalizations countywide: 7,898; 21% of whom are in the ICU.
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Jan. 5: 99, with 734 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 216, 174 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 18,135
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Jan. 4: 130, with six additional deaths reported by Henry Mayo over the weekend. It is unclear whether those figures have been added to Public Health’s total.

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: 12,899
Unincorporated – Acton: 293
Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 148
Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 28
Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 528
Unincorporated – Castaic: 3,037 (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: 94
Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 28
Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 668
Unincorporated – Val Verde: 202
Unincorporated – Valencia: 110

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