Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday new highs in the number of COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles, giving the city little hope of reopening in the near future.
Among the surprising figures given by the Mayor in his address was the staggering number of daily deaths compared to other causes of death in the city.
“The near record of 259 daily COVID-19 deaths in LA County on Tuesday was more than all the homicides in 2019 in LA City combined,” noted the Mayor on Thursday, one day before the figure increased to over 300 deaths in the County on Friday alone according to LA Public Health.
COVID-19 Daily Update:
January 8, 2021
New Cases: 18,313 (889,405 to date)
New Deaths: 318 (11,863 to date)
Current Hospitalizations: 8,074 pic.twitter.com/mvUsPDT9FL
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) January 9, 2021
Both Garcetti and County health officials also warned that a likely surge in cases caused by Christmas and New Year’s travel was expected in the coming days, with LA’s dramatic rise in new cases and deaths throughout the week signaling that it is likely already happening.
“I don’t believe that this is a new plateau that will automatically come down,” added Garcetti on Thursday. “In fact, it’s my belief that this is just a pause before a new peak brought on by the evidence we see of too much movement around Christmas and New Year’s. So hold on, because things may get worse.”
Health officials concurred with the Mayor.
“If that transmission did increase over Christmas and New Year’s, we’ll start to see those hospitalizations and case counts rise, and that transmission rate is really actually much higher,” explained Los Angeles County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly. “And that flattening of the number of the new hospitalizations really should not be interpreted that transmission and spread is stopping.”
Growing COVID figures, lack of assistance likely to extend lockdown
Mayor Garcetti also pleaded for assistance, noting that they were in great need of everything from additional ICU space to vaccines.
“Give Los Angeles what we need,” said the Mayor. “Just as we sent doctors to New York and PPE to other parts of the country early on when they were peaking, this is our peak. And we need you. We need national leadership, we need vaccines, and we need resources to pay for them.”
The growing number of COVID-19 cases in LA County, already the highest per county in the nation, has also sealed the fate of any hope of an early lockdown end in the County, with tight restrictions expected to continue for many more months.
“People just keep getting sick from it,” said Diego Fox, a small business advisor based in East Los Angeles to the Globe. “And with no end to it now, it feels like this big doom just descended down. COVID has both affected and infected a lot of people here, especially Latinos. A year ago, I was just answering basic questions on getting loans for a small business or helping them through budget questions. Now I have had questions like ‘If my dad, the owner, dies, who will have to shut down his store?’ or ‘Can I fire my employees if all 5 of them have gotten the coronavirus?'”
“From what the Mayor said yesterday, not only will this continue, this is going to get worse. No one wants to say just how many places have closed down for good. No one wants to say why neighborhoods have a lot of open houses now if there have been no evictions. But it’s really happening. We need more help, and we’re not getting it.”
The need for additional help was brought back up several more times by the Mayor on Thursday, who noted that it wasn’t coming, at least not from the federal government.
“I would love for the FDA to give us clinicians,” said Mayor Garcetti. “But this has been one of the problems. The federal government has basically told cities ‘you’re on your own,’ and we know that most doctors and nurses are on the frontline fighting COVID-19. To be clear, there are trained health professionals — paramedic-firefighters — on every site, although they’re not the ones reaching into cars to tell people how to do it.”
The Mayor, as well as other Los Angeles health officials, are expected to give an update on the rising number of cases and possible surge by early next week.
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