COVID-19 death toll continues to rise, LA county sets new daily record

Los Angeles County's death toll from COVID-19 has crossed the grim 9,000 mark, while hospitals continue to report record numbers of coronavirus patients.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Public Health reported 145 coronavirus-related deaths, the highest single-day number of the entire pandemic.

The county also reported another 16,525 cases, and the current number of people hospitalized stands at 6,155.

To date, since the start of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has seen 663,954 positive cases and 9,153 deaths. 

Officials warn that hospitalizations and fatality numbers are certain to get worse over the next two weeks.

Health officials are urging people to cancel their holiday plans and stay indoors as much as possible. The county saw a major surge following Thanksgiving and health officials fear another surge could happen following Christmas and New Year’s. 

According to an ongoing weekly USC survey of residents' actions during the pandemic, 30% of respondents reported visiting a friend, relative or neighbor in the past week, and 30% said they had visitors at their home. Health officials said that translates to 3 million county residents ignoring protocols against gathering with people from other households.

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

"Our actions have an impact on the health and well-being of many people in our county, and not following the public health rules has deadly consequences,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

"The virus has spread across the entire county and everyone, employers and residents, need to be extra vigilant in their precautions to protect themselves and others. This is not the time to crowd at stores, to attend parties and gatherings, or to travel. If every person can find it in themselves to celebrate the meaning of the holidays by protecting each other from the virus, we have a chance to stop the surge.''

The transmission rate of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County is now being estimated at 1.11, representing the average number of people a COVID patient infects with the virus. The rate is down from last week's estimate of 1.2. The county's modeling now suggests that about one in every 95 residents who aren't hospitalized or in quarantine are infected with the virus and capable of spreading it. That compares to last week's estimate of one in 80.

The county continues to estimate that 25% of residents have had the virus at
some point.

City News Service contributed to this report 

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