LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Monday reported 12,617 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 137 additional fatalities, bringing countywide totals to 932,697 cases and 12,387 deaths.
“In just the past seven days, we’ve lost more than 1,500 people,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “This is tragic, upsetting and overwhelming.”
Of the new deaths reported, 55 people were over the age of 80, 48 people were between the ages of 65 and 79, 25 were between the ages of 50 and 64 and seven were between the ages of 30-49.
County Supervisor Hilda Solis, again urging residents to adhere to local health orders, said she has heard stories from healthcare workers between families on tablets and their hospitalized loved ones that included apologies from younger relatives for bringing the virus into the home.
“These apologies are some of the last works that loved ones will ever hear as they die alone,” she said. “Please don’t let this be your family. Don’t let this be your parents or grandparents.”
Health officials also announced plans to dramatically ramp up vaccinations by establishing five large sites capable of administering up to 5,000 doses per day.
The sites, expected to be open across the county next week, will be in addition to the city-operated vaccination site being opened at Dodger Stadium, which has been the largest COVID-19 testing site in the nation.
Ferrer said the new sites, which have not yet been announced, would allow the county to speed up vaccinations for frontline health care workers.
“These five sites, in addition to our private partner sites, will allow us to complete an additional 500,000 vaccinations among our health care workers by the end of January,” Ferrer said.
She said that the county hopes to have the bulk of healthcare workers in the county by the end of the month, allowing the next phase of distribution to begin in early February for people ages 75 and older and some categories of essential workers. By late March, the county hopes to begin the following phase for people 50 or older as well as people over the age of 16 with underlying health conditions.
The vaccination effort comes as Ferrer reported one person in L.A. County dies on average every eight minutes with 10 people testing positive each minute. She said the county was “quickly increasing our pace to reach the grim milestone of 1 million cases.”
As of Monday, there were 7,910 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 22% of whom were being treated in intensive care units.
With more than 5 million people tested for COVID-19 in the county since the pandemic began, the overall positivity rate had increased to 18%.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)