Los Angeles mayor sounds alarm on rising Covid-19 deaths

In a metropolitan area where one in 20 people have been infected with Covid-19, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti presented another warning: they’re dying too.

“This week, every 20 minutes someone in LA County is dying from Covid-19,” he said in a tweet, adding in a separate post that “our hospitals are running dangerously low on intensive care unit beds. It’s time for urgent action.”

Los Angeles County, the most populous in the US with 10 million people, said Friday the number of infections surpassed 500,000. They increased by 11,476 to 512,872 on Saturday after rising by a record the day before.

The county, also home to the highest number of infections and fatalities in the US, reported 70 new deaths, bringing the total to 8,269. Garcetti said a week ago that the total number of deaths could exceed 11,000 by the end of the year.

The jump in cases came two weeks after millions traveled across the country for the Thanksgiving break, prompting county health officials to call the latest wave a “Thanksgiving surge.” The health department said it’s a “dangerous time” for its residents and warned that deaths are reaching an all-time high.

Still, deaths as a percentage of cases at 1.6% is lower than the 1.9% national average, or 2.2% globally.

Los Angeles is in week two of its second lockdown and is part of a region in California that has imposed more restrictions through the holiday season. Hospitalizations in the Golden State are at their highest since the start of outbreak, reducing the availability of intensive-care unit beds to a new low.

While the city and county were among the first in the US to shut down non-essential businesses during the initial outbreak in March, along with other restrictions, enforcement remains a key obstacle in containing the spread.

“Some people aren’t doing what we’re asking them to do, and I think the biggest problem we have right now is there’s so much transmission that when even just a small percentage of people are not taking sensible steps to protect themselves and protect others, it has a tremendous cascading impact” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s of public health, said on a call with reporters on Friday.

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