New infections have soared with about one in five residents who get tested for Covid-19 receiving positive results.
In a little more than a month, the county doubled its number of infections, climbing from about 400,000 cases on Nov. 30 to more than 800,000 cases on Jan. 2, health officials said Monday.
The case deluge has translated to a surge of Covid-19 patients, overwhelming hospitals and plunging intensive care unit capacity across the region to zero. There are now more than 7,600 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in in the county, 21% of whom are in the ICU, officials said
With no hospital beds available, ambulance crews in the county were given guidance not to transport patients with little chance of survival. And the patients who are transported often have to wait hours before a bed is available.
But it will get worse.
Officials say they're headed into the feared surge stemming from holiday gatherings.
"The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year's Eve parties and returning travelers," Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said.
"We're likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we've faced the entire pandemic, and that's hard to imagine."
As the nation's most populous state and home to approximately 1 in 9 Americans, California would understandably lead in a category such as total cases in a pandemic felt nationwide. However, it is the sheer volume of sick residents and the rate of increase that is particularly driving alarm.
On Nov. 1, the seven-day average for new daily cases in California was 4,183. On Dec. 29, it was 31,245.
The state averaged more than 40,000 new coronavirus infections every day for the week prior to Christmas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU), filling up hospitals and pushing health care workers to consider ways to ration care.
Multiple factors are at play when it comes to California's sudden acceleration of coronavirus cases, including Covid-19 fatigue, resistance to stay-at-home regulations, the huge number of essential workers and the socioeconomic factors of the pandemic affecting poorer and minority households.