On Saturday, January 16th, Los Angeles became the very first county to reach 1 million coronavirus cases ever since the pandemic began in early 2020. The Los Angeles health department announced 14,669 new cases on Saturday, contributing to a total of just over 1 million. This past weekend, the county also reported its first case of the more contagious variant that was found initially in the United Kingdom last year. The county’s public health director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, says “The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized.” The community in Los Angeles is experiencing an extremely high number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Due to the pandemic, air pollution agencies have temporarily suspended limits on cremations to assist crematoriums with a “backlog.” The county is strictly limiting the number of cremations based on the potential impact they’ll have on the air quality. This recent news is only part of the devastating headlines that reflect the crisis in Los Angeles. Along with surpassing 1 million cases, hospitals have been declaring internal disasters and many officials have started to add capacity in order to store more and more bodies. At the current rate of deaths, 1 person was dying every 8 minutes according to CNN earlier this month.
South Coast AQMD says, “The current rate of death is more than double that of pre-pandemic years, leading to hospitals, funeral homes, and crematoriums exceeding capacity without the ability to process the backlog of cases.” As the condition continues to get worse, county officials mentioned that healthcare workers and ICU capacity is “strained” as of right now. There was a surge in cases around the holidays, especially after Christmas and the end of the new year travel that pushed intensive-care unit capacity to zero. Overall, healthcare workers suggest for everyone to take action by staying home and avoid mingling with others outside their household to prevent the spread of COVID-19.