Officials are warning that simply leaving home is a high-risk activity in Los Angeles County as coronavirus deaths surpassed 11,000 for the first time Tuesday amid a dire holiday-season surge.

L.A. County reached the staggering new death toll after more than 1,000 new COVID-19 fatalities were reported in less than a week. Just before New Year’s Eve, 10,056 deaths had been confirmed countywide.

“Our actions over the next couple of weeks are a matter of life and death for many,” the county public health department said in a tweet Tuesday. “Community transmission rates are high and any activity outside your home is high-risk.”

Risk of infection is expected to only increase in the coming weeks as the toll of holiday celebrations piles onto the existing surge.

“Assume that this deadly invisible virus is everywhere, looking for a willing host,” county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a Monday briefing. “Don’t let that be you or someone you care about.”

Ferrer urged Angelenos to take the utmost precautions on even routine errands, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy.

More than 1 in 5 people tested for coronavirus in L.A. County are getting a positive result, and cases doubled to 800,000 between Nov. 30 and Jan. 2.

“That is a human disaster, and one that was avoidable,” L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said of the sharp rise in cases at Monday’s public health briefing. 

Solis cautioned that the disaster could still deepen “beyond comprehension if the health restrictions in place are not fully obeyed.”

The total number of known cases now stands at more than 840,000 after another 13,500 were confirmed Tuesday.  

The county on Tuesday also reported 224 more deaths, bringing its pandemic total to 11,071.

A new COVID-19 variant suspected to be more contagious has not been confirmed in L.A. County, but officials believe it is spreading here.

“We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic — and that’s hard to imagine,” Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, the region’s heavily impacted hospitals are struggling to provide care to all who need it, with patients filling hallways and gift shops. This week, ambulances were directed to cut back on oxygen use and avoid transporting patients with little chance of survival.

The number of people battling COVID-19 in hospitals continues to reach new heights. More than 200 additional patients have been admitted since Monday for a total of nearly 7,900, with 21% of them in intensive care.  

With holiday travel a main concern, officials have ordered anyone traveling into or returning to L.A. County from outside Southern California to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. Click here to learn more about the rules.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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