Los Angeles Covid Cases Top 1 Million as Outbreak Worsens


The Greater Los Angeles area has surpassed 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, though county scientists estimate actual infections are three times higher.

The milestone means one in 10 people in L.A. County has tested positive at some point in the outbreak. The health department reported 14,669 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to just over 1 million. The county also added 253 new deaths, for a total of 13,741.

The new cases are expected to put further strain on a health-care system already overwhelmed as L.A. became the nation’s epicenter of the latest wave. Across Southern California and increasingly in other parts of the state, the surge in cases following Thanksgiving and year-end holiday travel has pushed intensive-care unit capacity to zero.

County scientists this week estimated that one in three in Greater L.A. may have been infected during the course of the pandemic. Mayor Eric Garcetti put that figure at more than 3 million people -- which would outnumber all but five countries worldwide.

The county also reported its first case of the U.K. variant -- a man who recently spent time in the area before traveling to Oregon, where he’s isolating. Health authorities said it expects the variant to have spread in the community.

“The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our health-care system is already severely strained,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said in a statement. “Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer.”

L.A., the biggest U.S. county by population, also has the most number of cases and death toll. Still, its death rate of 1.4% is the lowest among the five biggest U.S. counties by fatalities.

While L.A. was among the first U.S. cities to shut down non-essential businesses 10 months ago, and remains in a state-imposed lockdown after running out of intensive-care unit beds, officials have said enforcement remains the biggest challenge in containing the spread. The outbreak has also taken a toll on its economy.

Covid Swamps Los Angeles as Residents Spurn Fear, Lockdowns

In the past week, officials transformed Dodger Stadium from the biggest U.S. Covid-19 testing site into a mass vaccination center to inoculate as many as 12,000 people a day. Five more large-scale vaccination sites will be opened, including at famed concert venue the Forum, Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park and the Pomona Fairplex, site of the county fair. The sites will each be able to accommodate about 4,000 people a day.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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