COVID-19 Numbers Continue to Soar

Briefs - New coronavirus cases per week in Malibu.jpg

Despite many in LA County and across the country suffering from an ailment known as “COVID fatigue”—burn-out from constant warnings, shut-downs and bad news—county officials have continued efforts to keep residents home amid record-breaking disease spread around Los Angeles, including a new mandatory 10-day self-quarantine for anyone entering the county after holiday travel.

“If you were traveling or are planning to travel back into LA County, you MUST quarantine for 10 days as required by the Health Officer Order,” a social media post from the LA County Department of Public Health published Dec. 28 stated. “If you start to experience any symptoms or have a positive test, isolate for 10 days and until you are fever-free for 24 hours.”

That warning was issued the same day a report was published in the LA Times stating that “the number of people with COVID-19 in ICUs has broken records for 16 consecutive days.” 

As of Tuesday, Dec. 29, LA County hospitals were caring for 6,917 COVID-19 patients, a 674 percent increase in patients over the number hospitalized before the latest surge of cases began around Thanksgiving, the health department reported. ICU capacity was estimated at zero percent across Southern California.

The LA Times wrote that the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center reached a “breaking point” on Sunday night, Dec. 27, “shutting its doors to all ambulance traffic for 12 hours” after it was 30 beds short for patients in need of care. Some patients needing oxygen in the ICU waited for 18 hours, the Times wrote.

“It’s a crisis—there’s no doubt about it,” Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Kevan Metcalfe told the LA Times. “And they just keep coming.”

In Malibu, the week from Dec. 22-28 broke a local record for new cases, with 17 residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus in that span, the highest number of new cases experienced in Malibu in a single week since testing began in March. Though numbers are dwarfed by those experienced in other areas of LA County—notably areas of higher population density, lower incomes and higher populations of minority residents—Malibu’s rate continues to climb. 

This week, two of Malibu’s three Starbucks locations were shuttered, reportedly due to outbreaks: the Trancas location in western Malibu and the Malibu Colony Plaza (Ralphs Center) location in the Civic Center area (although neither location had yet been listed on the county’s website by the time The Malibu Times went to print on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 29). Starbucks employees at the Cross Creek location told a Malibu Times employee there were also COVID-19 related issues that resulted in delivery of baked goods being temporarily halted.

In total, as of Monday, Dec. 28, 211 Malibu residents have tested positive for the virus, with an additional 285 testing positive in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains area. Five Malibuites have been killed by the disease caused by the virus, with one additional death reported among the residents of unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains.

The county health department also warned that LA County was nearing the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths caused by the disease, or approximately one out of every 1,000 LA County residents dying due to COVID-19. As of Monday, 9,555 Angelenos had been killed by COVID-19, the department reported, although an additional 432 COVID-19 fatalities were expected to be added to the tally following a delay due in part to a Spectrum internet outage. That would bring the total up to 9,987 as of Monday.

“Last week, LA County lost a person to COVID-19 every 10-15 minutes,” the department posted on social media on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 29, offering advice for residents to “Stay home as much as possible,” “avoid non-essential activities outside your home,” not “gather with others,” and, “keep your face covering on when outside your home and keep at least 6 ft of distance from others.”