Los Angeles County broke the record for COVID-19 cases reported in a single day once again on Thursday, with 12,819 cases announced.
So far, 487,917 positive cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began.
Another 74 virus-related fatalities were also reported, raising the death toll to 8,149.
There are 3,433 people hospitalized with the virus as of Thursday, which is the most hospitalizations the county has seen thus far.
Of the COVID patients who are hospitalized, 23% are in intensive-care units. As of Thursday, Southern California ICU capacity has dropped to just 7.7%.
“Like a speeding car approaching a cliff, if we do not rapidly change course, we are in jeopardy of catastrophic consequences, with our hospitals overwhelmed and severely ill patients not being able to get the care they need,” the county’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Paul Simon, said. “… If we do not take every precaution right now, more people will become very seriously ill, more people will suffer and more people will tragically pass away.”
USC Keck School of Medicine is now estimating that one in 50 L.A. County residents is infected with COVID-19.
The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be administered across California as early as next week, and LA County health officials said Thursday they are preparing for the massive undertaking of eventually vaccinating millions of residents.
The county’s chief science officer said that the process will be equitable and based solely on health priorities.
“Equity is a fundamental principle here,” Simon said during an online media briefing. “We want to make sure all people have access, and that those that are at greatest risk either because of higher risk of exposure, or greater risk of severe illness because of chronic health conditions or other factors have more immediate access to the vaccine.”
As state and local officials have already said, Simon echoed the sentiment that the first doses of the vaccine will be strictly used for healthcare workers and residents of assisted living facilities.
The county is anticipating receiving almost 83,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine once the FDA gives its approval, which would be enough for just over 41,o00 people. They would be deployed across 83 acute-care hospitals.
“The goal is to find the most efficient way to deliver these vaccines as safely as possible to the largest group of people that we can,” said Faye Christen, L.A. County USC Medical Center Nursing Director. “We are exploring different modes of delivery and one of them potentially could be a drive-up model.”
After the initial doses, Simon said the county expects to receive close to 250,000 more doses the following week and another 150,000 the week after that. Beginning in 2021, weekly deliveries of up to 250,000 doses are anticipated.
Once all healthcare workers and long-term care staff and residents are vaccinated, “essential workers” and people with severe risk of illness would be next in line.