Nine more people in Los Angeles County have died as a result of the novel coronavirus, public health officials reported on Thursday, March 26. A total of 21 people in LA County have lost their lives from COVID-19, the disease that results from the coronavirus.

Ferrer declined to offer any more details about the individuals who died or where they resided because some of the immediate family have not been reached yet, she said.

The county also announced 421 new cases Thursday putting the total number of confirmed cases at 1,216 people, a near doubling in 48 hours.

The latest figures show just what health officials said they feared for weeks, that the growing number of cases will increase exponentially and Los Angeles could face a surge at area hospitals like that seen in China, Italy and New York currently.

“If we don’t curtail that spread within a few weeks there could be a million people affected,” Ferrer said. “If 20% need some sort of hospital care, you can see why we need people helping to slow the spread. That would be 200,000 people who need to be hospitalized.”

As of Thursday, the county had 208 open intensive care unit beds in the entire county, according Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of health services. There are also about 1,500 other hospital beds available, and Ghaly said all hospitals had the ability to accommodate surge capacity.

As for ventilators, Ghaly said area hospitals had 830 ventilators with a few hundred more being delivered.

On Wednesday, public health officials sent a message to providers instructing them to preserve personal protective equipment and reuse whatever they could because of limited supplies. A disconcerting message for some given that hospitals have yet to experience the surge that’s been so anticipated. Ghaly on Thursday said there was no immediate shortage of gear but they were being proactive.

“The stockpile has been distributed,” she said. “All hospitals should be following the CDC guidelines for reuse of personal protective equipment.”

The county adjusted its death toll slightly from previous reports. Officials on Wednesday pulled back on linking the death of a Lancaster juvenile to the coronavirus saying the U.S. Centers for Disease Control was now investigating the case. Another previously reported death was a resident who lived in another county.

“Reporting these deaths is the worst day for us at DPH, but it cannot compare to the deep loss for the family and friends,” Ferrer said.

Out of the 1,216 cases confirmed so far, 40% were people between the ages of 18 and 40, another 40% were between 41 and 65, and 253 cases have been hospitalized, roughly 21% of all positive cases. Mortality was currently at 1.6% of confirmed cases, Ferrer said, similar to that of the U.S. as a whole.

One of the deaths could possibly be that of Joe Radisich, Sr., a legendary football coach at Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro who died Wednesday night, March 25, after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, according to his son. He was 84.

It was unclear if Radisich’s death was included in the number of confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 put out by the county. Based on the most recent list of cases, San Pedro accounted for two confirmed cases.



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