A county in the US has advised residents to wear masks, warning one person is dying locally from the coronavirus every eight minutes.
Los Angeles County, in the US state of California, has suffered more than 11,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
LA County on Friday warned people needed to wear masks or stay home.
“A person now dies every eight minutes from Covid-19 in LA County,” it tweeted.
“Stay home to save lives, always wear a mask when out for essentials and avoid gathering with people you don't live with.”
California health authorities reported Saturday a record one-day total of 695 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads.
The state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 29,233, according to the state Department of Public Health’s website.
Meanwhile, hospitalisations are nearly 22,000, and state models project the number could reach 30,000 by February 1.
A surge of cases following Halloween and Thanksgiving produced record hospitalisations in California, and now the most seriously ill of those patients are dying in unprecedented numbers.
‘Never seen this much death before’
Nurse Yesenia Avila told the Ventura County Star she’s “never seen this much death before”.
On one particular shift, she said three Covid-19 patients died within an hour.
“I’ve been in health care for 22 years, and I’ve never been scared,” she told the paper.
“Right now, I am ... I fear for my children.”
In LA County, figures released Thursday and Friday showed a new daily caseload of nearly 20,000, significantly above the average of about 14,000 new cases a day over the last week. In all, 100,000 new cases were recorded this week.
With new figures released Saturday, the county surpassed 12,000 deaths caused by Covid-19 — 1,000 of which happened in the last four days.
LA County’s public health director Barbara Ferrer said the county is reaching “grim milestones” and the speed at which these are being reached is a “devastating reflection” of the virus’s “immense spread”.
“And this accelerated spread reflects the many unsafe actions individuals took over the holidays,” she said.
Dr Paul Simon, the county Department of Public Health’s chief science officer, told the Los Angeles Times he expects the number of hospitalisations and deaths to remain high throughout January because of what occurred over the holidays.
“We’re going to see high levels of hospitalisation and, sadly, deaths over at least the next two to four weeks,” he said.
Los Angeles County has a fourth of the state’s population, but it accounts for about 40 per cent of Covid-19 deaths.
with The Associated Press
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