COVID cases double in a week. LA doctor pleads people to obey public health orders

A medical center offers COVID-19 testing with results in less than 24 hours, Culver City, Los Angeles, California. December 7, 2020. Photo by Amy Ta/KCRW

LA County experienced more than 10,000 new COVID cases on Sunday. That’s double the number of new cases reported just a week ago. All of Southern California is now under a state-issued stay-at-home order because ICU capacity in the region has shrunk to below 15%.

Dr. Brad Spellberg is Chief Medical Officer at the LA County + USC Medical Center. He says, “We have people with families who are putting themselves at risk … taking care of these patients. And then you drive home, or you drive to work, and you see people not taking it seriously. Or you turn on the news and you see people not taking it seriously. It’s very frustrating.”

Spellberg says he hopes the new stay-at-home order will make a dent, and the availability of ICU beds is critical. “It is when the ICU becomes completely overwhelmed, that’s when the wheels start falling off the wagon.”

As the year ends, he warns, “If people are as lackadaisical about the December holidays as they were about the November one, I’m expecting a very, very rough January.”