original article published at https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2021/01/15/coroanvirus-los-angeles-county-15051-cases-258-deaths/
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Friday reported 15,051 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 258 deaths, bringing countywide totals to 989,928 cases and 13,489 deaths.
But, despite the rising case and death figured, state officials reported that COVID-19 hospitalizations continued their downward trend. There were a total of 7,597 people hospitalized, down from 7,715 on Thursday and below the 8,000-plus patients reported most of last week.
The number of patients in intensive care units was holding mostly steady at 1,675, down from 16,77 on Thursday. County officials have previously reported there are about 2,500 licensed ICU beds in the county.
But health officials warned Friday that hospital numbers could see another significant spike as those infected over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays start to become more seriously ill.
Dr. Paul Simon, county public health chief science officer, said that it was “very likely” that the county would reach 1 million total COVID-19 cases on Saturday.
And although the 1 million figure would represent about 10% of the county’s population, modeling released this week estimated that as many as one-third of residents have actually contracted the virus — most likely without even knowing.
Simon also noted that while a new strain of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom has not yet been found in L.A. County, it was likely already here.
He also said that the new strain had “enough mutations that it could potentially … impact the ability of our tests to detect it.”
Officials also said the county was working to ramp up vaccination efforts, though the question remained of whether the county had enough vaccine doses to complete its goals.
As of Thursday, 279,000 doses had been administered to healthcare workers and staff and residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. Simon said the county has administered 44% of the vaccines received for use as first doses and 30% of those earmarked for second doses.
“The remaining doses have either been distributed to our partner vaccination providers or have been allocated for use over the next several weeks,” he said.
He urged residents to remain patient as vaccines are rolled out in the county and to continue wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and washing their hands.
“Sadly, our COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths in the county remain very high,” Simon said. “It will take a number of months to reach the level of vaccination needed in the population to curb ongoing transmission of the virus. Until then it is imperative that everyone continue following the simple measures needed to prevent spread of the virus.”
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)