Los Angeles County reported 5,087 new cases of COVID-19 and 37 additional deaths on Thanksgiving Day, one of the highest single-day case totals of the entire pandemic.
The number of county residents hospitalized with the coronavirus jumped from 1,682 to 1,809, with 24% of those in intensive care. The county's cumulative total of coronavirus cases stands at 383,275, with 7,580 fatalities.
The staggering numbers came one day after a much-debated ban on in- person dining took effect, with Los Angeles County health officials painting a dire picture of the current surge, saying the transmission rate has reached its highest point since March and could overwhelm hospitals within a month.
"We continue to be at a very difficult time in this pandemic, as is so much of the United States," county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Wednesday. "In fact, our situation is getting worse each day."
According to current county estimates, every COVID-19 patient in the county is passing the virus to an average of 1.27 people -- the highest transmission rate the county has seen since March, before any safety protocols such as face coverings and social distancing were in place.
Based on that transmission rate, health officials estimate one of every 145 people in the county are now infected with the virus and transmitting it to others.
The county, meanwhile, could soon be enacting even more stringent restrictions on a wider array of businesses. On Monday, the county's five-day average of new cases topped 4,500, a threshold that was expected to trigger a "targeted Safer At Home order" that would prohibit all public and private gatherings an impose strict capacity limits at stores.
It was unclear when the county might enact such an order, and despite stressing the urgency of controlling virus transmission, Davis was non- committal on Wednesday about when it would happen. He said health officials were still in discussions with the Board of Supervisors about specifics of the order.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the board Tuesday that health officials were recommending that the order:
-- prohibit all public and private gatherings of people not in the same household except for outdoor church services and outdoor protests, which will require masks and social distancing;
-- set occupancy limits for outdoor retail businesses at 50% capacity with masks and social distancing required;
-- set occupancy limits for essential indoor retail businesses at 35% capacity with masks and social distancing required;
-- set occupancy limits for non-essential indoor retail businesses at 20% capacity with masks and social distancing required;
-- keep beaches, trails and parks open with masks and social distancing required, except while swimming;
-- permit walking, running, biking and playing outdoors with masks and social distancing;
-- keep outdoor recreational facilities open for members of a single household using masks and social distancing;
-- close pools that are open to more than one household other than for regulated lap swimming;
-- close or keep closed some non-essential businesses, including office-based businesses, card rooms, clubs, bars, lounges, playgrounds other than at child care centers or schools, theaters, spectator performances, sporting events, bowling alleys and arcades;
-- allow child care and day care centers, K-12 schools and day camps, institutions of higher education, libraries, youth sports and spectator-free pro sports to operate largely under current rules; and
-- continue to adhere to the state curfew prohibiting all gatherings with members of other households from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. other than essential activities, exempting homeless individuals