Los Angeles County reported another 20,414 new cases of COVID-19 and 207 additional deaths Friday, although 40 of the deaths were from a backlog associated with a Spectrum outage and holiday reporting delays.
The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals rose to 7,613, the highest number seen during the pandemic, with 21% of those people in intensive care units.
Amid the unfolding disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is sending experts to help with the oxygen delivery systems at six of the county's older hospitals, state officials announced Friday.
The team from Army Corps of Engineers will evaluate the oxygen systems at the following county hospitals:
-- Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital, Los Angeles;
-- Emanate Health Queen of the Valley Hospital, West Covina;
-- Mission Community Hospital, Panorama City;
-- Beverly Community Hospital, Montebello;
-- Lakewood Regional Medical Center, Lakewood;
-- PIH Health Hospital, Downey.
"By working to upgrade challenged oxygen delivery systems at these older hospitals we can improve the ability to deliver life sustaining medical care to those who need it," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.
Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county's health services director, has said that some hospitals' pipes cannot maintain sufficient pressure and might even freeze.
The military experts will oversee any upgrades deemed necessary at the affected hospitals.
The most recent figures from the county showed a total of 773 available and staffed hospital beds, including just 57 adult ICU beds. Those numbers change rapidly throughout the day.
Nearly 4,737,000 individuals had been tested for coronavirus as of Friday, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, with 16% of people testing positive.
The county's coronavirus toll now stands at 790,582 cases and 10,552 fatalities.