Hospitalizations and deaths of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles County spiked through the month of November — the number of people receiving life-saving treatment reaching a troubling new peak Wednesday.

The county has faced a surging number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks but the number of people hospitalized had not seen the same steep rise until the past two weeks. A total of 2,439 people were hospitalized for the virus Wednesday, more than on any other day during the pandemic. That also marks more than 100 additional patients reported in just the last day.

The second-highest number of daily hospitalizations was reported Tuesday: 2,316.

Since daily hospitalizations previously peaked at 2,232 in July, accompanied by a concerning death rate, those numbers had somewhat leveled off in the last two months. The death rate declined from late August on and remained relatively steady through October before spiking beginning on Nov. 10.

The number of hospitalizations recorded daily fell below 1,000 in early September and remained below that level through the end of October. But they inched up as the case rate rose following Halloween, and by mid-November, they were spiking to levels seen during the summer.

Within about a month, the number of hospitalizations recorded daily has more than doubled.

The steep rise in coronavirus cases has led the county to shut down all dining at restaurants — including the outdoor dining otherwise permitted by state-issue restrictions. That happened even before the record hospitalizations reported Tuesday and Wednesday.

But critics say the county dining ban goes too far.

Several restauranteurs have come forward saying they’re losing their businesses. Some elected officials, including County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, have questioned why restaurants are having to close down when there’s not necessarily evidence proving they are driving the surge.

Some critics have pointed to private gatherings like house parties as the source of spiking cases, saying it’s unfair restaurants and other businesses have to pay the price. Still, local health officials have countered that shutting down restaurant dining is a way to regulate an activity that’s inherently prone to spreading the virus — particularly since patrons don’t wear masks.

On Wednesday, a judge declined to strike down the county’s dining ban but asked for local officials to offer evidence showing how the ban will help curb the spread of the virus.

The California Restaurant Association has asked health officials for scientific proof to justify the ban.

The court has another hearing set for next week on the ban.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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