COVID-19 continued its relentless surge across Los Angeles County today, with health officials reporting a record-setting daily number of new infections and a pandemic-high level of hospitalized patients, possibly setting the stage for a state-mandated stay-at-home order.
Here are the numbers reported today by the county Department of Public Health:
• 7,593 new COVID-19 infections today, topping the previous daily record of 6,124 set just last week.
• The average daily rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus is now nearly 12%, up from 7% a week ago and about 4% a month ago.
• A total of 2,316 people were reported to be hospitalized due to the virus, topping the previous peak level of 2,232 set in July. Health officials have warned that hospitalizations will continue to rise in conjunction with the increase in cases, potentially gobbling up normally available hospital space by Christmas.
• 46 additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported today, although one of those deaths was announced Monday by Long Beach. Long Beach reported two additional deaths today. The new fatalities increased the countywide death toll to 7,702.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that although today is the worst day of the pandemic so far, things will worsen "tomorrow and the next day and the next."
"Every resident and every business needs to take immediate action if we are to dampen this alarming surge," Ferrer said in a statement. "We are in the middle of an accelerating surge in a pandemic of huge magnitude. This is not the time to skirt or debate the safety measures that protect us because we need every single person to use every tool available to stop the surge and save lives."
The county on Monday implemented tightened restrictions that bar all gatherings of people from multiple households and set strict capacity limits on businesses and recreation venues. Those restrictions followed last week's cutoff of in-person dining at restaurants, a move that was met with vocal criticism from business owners, diners and some elected officials.
But as tough as those restrictions were to swallow for some, even tighter regulations could soon be handed down from the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Monday that he could be issuing a sweeping stay-at-home order -- on the magnitude of the one imposed at the start of the pandemic in March -- in hard- hit counties to prevent hospitals from being overrun.
It was unclear how extensive that order might be, but it could potentially shutter all non-essential businesses and allow residents to leave their homes only to obtain essential goods.
The 7,593 new cases announced by the county today, along with 584 added by Long Beach health officials and 35 by Pasadena, lifted the county's cumulative total during the pandemic to 409,015.
In a statement announcing today's case numbers, the county Department of Public Health again urged residents to remain home as much as possible, and to wear a face covering and practice social distancing when in proximity to others.
The county also urged businesses to adhere to all health protocols, noting that inspectors handed out 57 citations to businesses between Nov. 8 and Nov. 22 for violating health orders. A total of 352 citations have been issued since the end of August.