Los Angeles may run out of hospital beds by Christmas as mayor urges residents to 'cancel everything'

EMT Giselle Dorgalli, second from right, looks at a monitor while performing chest compressions on a coronavirus patient last month at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles. By Sarah Moon and Douglas S. Wood, CNN

(CNN) -- The mayor of Los Angeles said the city will run out of hospital beds by Christmas if the coronavirus spreads at its current rate as he urged residents to "cancel everything" to help stop the spread of the virus.

Residents should stay home as much as possible as the city faces stark choices between "health and sickness, care and apathy, life and death," said Mayor Eric Garcetti during a Wednesday news conference.

"It's time to hunker down. It's time to cancel everything. If it isn't essential, don't do it," Garcetti said. "Don't meet up with others outside your household, don't host that gathering, don't attend a gathering."

The number of daily coronavirus infections in Los Angeles has tripled since early November. Hospitalizations have more than tripled and are at a new peak, Garcetti said.

"The public health condition of our city is as dire as it was in March in the earliest days of this pandemic," he said.

Los Angeles is in line with the rest of the country as Covid-19 hospitalizations have soared. The 100,226 Covid-19 patients in US hospitals on Wednesday is the highest reported during the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Health care officials across the country say their staff and facilities are struggling to support burgeoning numbers of patients.

Los Angeles County on Tuesday reported its highest number of hospitalizations and new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. Average daily cases have increased by 225% since early November, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Cases have been rising statewide as well. On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he is considering "drastic action," including reinstating a stay-at-home order, as projections show the surge of Covid-19 cases will cause the state's ICU capacity to be overrun by Christmas Eve.

Newsom is planning to update the state's response's the pandemic in a noon (3 p.m. ET) press conference on Thursday.

"Every resident and every business needs to take immediate action if we are to dampen this alarming surge. We are in the middle of an accelerating surge in a pandemic of huge magnitude," said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in a statement. "This is not the time to skirt or debate the safety measures that protect us because we need every single person to use every tool available to stop the surge and save lives."

The county, the most populated in the nation with 10.5 million residents, is now under an order that bans all public and private gatherings with anyone outside a single household. The ban was issued last week by the county public health office and ends December 20.

All county residents are asked to stay home as much as possible and wear face masks when outside, even when exercising. The order reduces the maximum occupancy for essential businesses to 35%, and for nonessential businesses, personal care services and libraries to 20%.

Businesses operating outdoors, including fitness centers, zoos, botanical gardens and batting cages, are reduced to a maximum of 50% capacity.

The directive follows a ban on in-person dining in Los Angeles County and a statewide curfew prohibiting nonessential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for most of the state's 39 million residents.

Newsom said Monday that at the current rate of new infections in California, hospitalizations could double or triple during December if there are no major changes to stop the spread of the virus.

Patients needing intensive care will surpass capacity, according to state projections. Statewide, ICU capacity is projected to be 112% by mid-December while Northern California is projected to see 134% more ICU patients than beds by early December.

Specific restrictions were not unveiled, but Newsom made it clear most of the state will likely be subjected to stronger restrictions, including a reinstatement of the stay-at-home orders. He anticipates this will be applied to the 51 of California's 58 counties that are classified in the most-restrictive reopening tier. This includes about 99% of the state's population.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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