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Los Angeles County may run out of hospital beds in 2 weeks

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Monday that key metrics are revealing “alarming” rates of community spread and the county is moving quickly toward “overwhelming” its hospitals.

The county announced 2,903 new cases of COVID-19 today, the single largest one-day case count since the pandemic began. The county’s seven-day average of daily reported new cases is nearly 2,000, compared to an average increase of 1,379 two weeks ago. As of Monday morning, 1,710 people were hospitalized, a jump from the hospitalization numbers that hovered between 1,350 to 1,450 in recent weeks.

What’s more, the county’s cumulative positivity rate — the number of people who have tested positive divided by the total number of tests administered— has “increased from 8% to 9%, and the 7-day average of the daily positivity rate has increased from the lowest daily rate of 4.6% positivity in late May to 8.4% today,” according to a statement released Monday by county officials. More than one million people in the county with more than 10 million residents have been tested.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that if precautions aren’t taken to stop the spread and cases continue to rise, the county could run out of hospital beds in two weeks. “Likewise the number of intensive care unit beds could be exhausted sometime in July,” according to the Times.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, told the Times, “There’s so much at stake since these continued increases will result in many more people becoming seriously ill and more deaths of COVID-19.”

In addition to the 2,903 new cases, the county confirmed 22 new deaths Monday. Eighteen people who died were over the age of 65 years old and four were between 41 and 65 years old. To date, 100,772 positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified across LA County with a total of 3,326 deaths. Ninety-three percent of people who died had underlying health conditions.

“The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said in a statement. “Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death. Businesses must closely adhere to directives. For individuals, we are all still safer at home, but if you must be out, practice physical distancing and wear a cloth face covering at all times when you are around others. Our actions to slow the spread cannot wait – we need to do these actions now and for the weeks ahead in order to prevent even more serious illness and death.”

To mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Los Angeles County and six other counties with rising cases to close bars, breweries, brew pubs, pubs, wineries and tasting rooms on Sunday.

“While it’s disappointing to take a step back on our economic recovery journey, it’s critical that we protect the health of our residents and protect the capacity in our healthcare system,” Ferrer said in a statement.

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Amy Graff is a digital editor with SFGATE. Email her: agraff@sfgate.com.