L.A. County officials report 131 COVID-19 deaths, the most since the pandemic began, and more than 21,400 coronavirus cases

A record number of COVID-19 deaths were reported in Los Angeles County on Wednesday, as well as an overwhelming amount of cases in the midst of intensive care units statewide slipping to just 1.7% remaining capacity.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, health officials announced 138 new deaths, the most ever recorded since the start of the pandemic, and 21,411 new COVID-19 cases. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there were 4,656 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 21% of whom were in the intensive care unit.

“We’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge,” Ferrer said. “These are extraordinary, extraordinary numbers and they represent transmission that continues to be out of control.”

ICU beds across Southern California have been plummeting to critical levels this week, with capacity falling to 1% in Ventura County and 0% in Riverside County, the California Department of Public Health reported.

In L.A. County, fewer than 100 ICU beds were available as of Tuesday. Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services, urged people to stay home and adding that “hospitals are under siege and our model shows no end in sight.”

In just a few days, county officials said they expect to see the number of people hospitalized reach 5,000.

Ferrer said today is the day to start cancelling Christmas plans that include gathering with people outside of an individual’s household.

“We have learned a hard and painful lesson from our actions over Thanksgiving,” she said. “Please, let’s not repeat our same mistakes as we move into our next holiday season.”

Countywide, there have been 539,097 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 8,568 deaths, both numbers which are continually rising.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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