LA County surpasses 15K COVID-19 related deaths; 5K reported since Christmas

INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 19: Staff and volunteers distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people as they remain in their vehicles at The Forum in Inglewood Tuesday. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Los Angeles County passed the milestone of 15,000 COVID-19 deaths, and more than a third of those have come after Christmas.

On Saturday, Public Health confirmed 269 new deaths and 10,537 new
coronavirus cases.

There are 6,881 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, and 24% are in the ICU. This is the first time since Dec. 29 that daily hospitalizations decreased to less than 7,000 patients. But while that number is down, health care workers and ICU capacity remain overwhelmed, with the Southern California Region continuing to have 0% available ICU capacity and remaining under the Regional Stay at Home Order.

Of the 269 new deaths reported Saturday, 82 people were over the age of 80; 85 were between 65 and 79; 52 were between 50 and 64; 15 were between 30
and 49; and one was between 18 and 29. Nine deaths each were reported by the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena.

Eight new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) are also being reported by Public Health. This brings the total cases of MIS-C in L.A. County to 62 children, one of whom has died. All 62 were hospitalized and 45% were treated in the ICU. Of the children with MIS-C, 31% were under 5 years old; 37% were between 5 and 11; and 32% were between 12 and 20.
Latino/Latinx children account for nearly 74% of the reported cases.

RELATED: 'He had a great spirit': Family remembers Simi Valley teen who passed from COVID-19

MIS-C is an inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19. Symptoms include fever that does not go away and inflamed body parts, including the
heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. 

Meanwhile, Public Health continued to urge patience among residents anxious to get a COVID-19 vaccination, with supplies remaining woefully short and the overburdened online reservation system leaving many people frustrated as they try to schedule appointments.

"We are also seeing a decline in hospitalizations and several other indicators we track, including test positivity rate, percentage of emergency department visits associated with COVID-19 and percentage of respiratory specimens positive for COVID at sentinel laboratory surveillance sites,'' said Dr. Paul Simon, the county Department of Public Health's chief science officer.

"However, despite these promising trends, I do want to emphasize that the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain far too high,'' he said.

"So while there's reason to be hopeful, we all must remain vigilant and continue to be disciplined, wearing masks, physically distancing when outside the home, avoiding gatherings and washing our hands frequently.''

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

Simon urged people to remain patient with efforts to administer vaccines, again pointing to a shortage of doses on hand and continued uncertainty about future allocations. He noted that the county's large-scale vaccination sites that opened this week -- each capable of administering 4,000 shots per day -- will be operating at much lower capacity next week, likely in the 2,000 to 2,500 range.

The county expects to receive about 143,900 more doses of vaccine next week. However, since people need to receive two doses of the medication, spaced three to four weeks apart, the bulk of the vaccine coming next week will be used to administer second doses to people who have already received the first shot.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer estimated earlier that only 37,900 of the doses coming next week will be available for people to receive their first dose.

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