Los Angeles Becomes First County to Report 1 Million COVID-19 Cases, U.S. Approaches 400,000 Deaths
Dodger Stadium has been turned into a COVID-19 vaccine center
On Saturday, Los Angeles became the first county in the United States to report 1 million coronavirus cases since the onset of the pandemic last year.
"Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A. county's public health director, in a statement to NBC News.
The county reported 1,003,923 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13,741 new deaths on Saturday. Health officials also said they believe the new U.K. variant of the virus has reached the community.
"The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized," Ferrer said.
Earlier this month, L.A. officials said a person dies every eight minutes from COVID-19 in the county.
As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, hospitals in L.A. have been forced to refuse care to patients — both people with COVID-19 and those with other conditions, such as heart attack or stroke — with a low chance of survival. EMS workers in the city have been advised to limit their use of oxygen for patients due to a shortage in the county.
As of Sunday afternoon, there have been at least 2,976,400 cases and 33,393 deaths in the state of California, according to a New York Times database. The next two states with the highest number of infections are Texas, with 2 million cases, and Florida, with 1.5 million.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use approval to Pfizer's vaccine. Three days later, a nurse in Queens, New York, became the first in the U.S. to receive a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the U.S. fell drastically short of a goal to vaccinate 20 million by the end of 2020, and the continued slow roll out has only compounded the rate of infection across the country.
To date, 12,279,180 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the U.S., and 1,610,524 people in the country have reached immunity with two doses of the vaccine, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, at least 10,595,866 people have received their first dose.
Last week, L.A.'s Dodger Stadium was converted into a mass COVID-19 vaccination center, with hopes that the site will bring the city closer to its goal of vaccinating as many residents as possible.
"We are very hopeful that our allocation of doses increases enough for us to begin vaccinating seniors before the end of the month," Ferrer told NBC News. "As vaccine supply improves, more residents will become eligible for vaccinations. It will take a number of months to reach the level of vaccination needed in the population to curb ongoing transmission of the virus."
Worldwide, the coronavirus has infected 94,749,000 people, while at least 2,025,500 have died.