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A.M. Brief: L.A.’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Could Top 7,000 in Next Two Weeks

December 22, 2020 by Brian Champlin
Photo via County of Los Angeles

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase countywide, and the next few weeks offer little hope of respite for exhausted healthcare workers. Also this morning: Almost a trillion in stimulus without direct aid to cities, a tenth of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is in quarantine, and law enforcement raided more superspreader parties over the weekend. Here is your Tuesday news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

County health officials continue to plead for Angelenos to stay distanced and stay at home as the county-wide ICU capacity remains at 0%. L.A. now has over 5,700 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals, and the hospitalization rate has nearly quintupled since the beginning of November. Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer estimates that hospitalizations could exceed 7,000 people per day in the coming weeks. During this period, the county could see more than 100 daily deaths. As of yesterday, Los Angeles has recorded 8,931 deaths from COVID-19. Dr. Christina Ghaly of the L.A. County Department of Health Services said, “I’ve been a physician for almost 20 years. There’s not any situation that I have seen in which hospitals are, across the board, affected in the way that they’re affected right now.” [LAist]

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The newly approved $900 billion stimulus package passed by Congress includes no direct financial assistance for cities or local governments. With revenues devastated by the pandemic, Los Angeles faces a $675 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. [LAist]

Police in Long Beach and Pasadena promised not to share automated license plate reader data with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but documents obtained by the ACLU show that’s exactly what they’ve done over the past months. The data had been shared with Homeland Security via its Bulk Cash Smuggling Center at least through Nov. 2, according to the documents. [L.A. Times]

Last Saturday, law enforcement arrested over 60 people at two parties—one downtown, the other in Compton—for violating current restrictions on large gatherings. A third event in Arlington Heights was monitored and ultimately shut down, though no arrests were made. [NBC Los Angeles]

Newly elected D.A. George Gascón has walked back a directive that would uniformly end sentencing enhancements for criminals, including for hate crimes. After a call with LGBTQ leaders last week, Gascón now says that he will “allow enhanced sentences in cases involving the most vulnerable victims and in specified extraordinary circumstances. These exceptions shall be narrowly construed.” [LA Mag]

More than 10% of LASD employees—including both sworn and non-sworn personnel—are now in quarantine due to the coronavirus, a staggering figure that department officials attribute to widespread community transmission. [L.A. Times]

A coroner’s report has confirmed that the United Airlines passenger who died en route to LAX from Orlando on Dec. 14 did, in fact, have the coronavirus. The cause of death is officially acute respiratory failure and COVID-19. An investigation is underway to see if any fellow passengers may have been infected. [CBS Los Angeles]

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