Update on LA County; the epicenter of the Coronavirus

In the weeks following the holidays, Los Angeles County has become one of the most dangerous counties in the nation and the epicenter of COVID-19, thus sounding the alarm in Claremont, which sits within the county. Any hopes of the new year bringing peace and wellness have been crushed in the first few days of 2021, as the county faces its worst numbers yet.

The current average of deaths per day in LA County is 169, but there have been instances where the numbers skyrocket past the already high average. It is estimated that one in five Coronavirus tests in the county is positive, and there is an average of one death every six minutes, as well as ten positive tests every minute. Some LA hospitals are questioning whether they have enough ICU beds to care for all patients at this rate of infection; there are only 2,500 ICU beds licensed in the area. In the past few weeks, 80% of LA County’s ICU beds have been occupied by confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

“It’s scary. … Since we are at 120% capacity right now; if you are driving around with friends and get in a car accident, they [medical professionals] can’t help you,” CHS Freshman Abby Kupetz said. “You can’t get into the hospital because there isn’t room for you. It’s not only about being kind to others but being kind to yourself.”

When the word “epicenter” is used referring to the central and most dangerous place in a threatening earthquake, no one wants to be within miles of that point. LA County is that point right now, and residents should take care to avoid the virus as they would any other disaster.

The city of Claremont has been struggling along with the rest of the county. Since early Dec., the city has gained 1,174 new cases and reported 26 new deaths. As of Jan. 20, that total is 36 deaths and 1,874 confirmed cases.

“An excuse people tend to use is ‘we’re not LA; we’re on the eastern edge of the county.’ But … just because we’re not LA doesn’t mean we’re not doing horribly,” Kupetz said.

Indeed, in just the first month of the new year Claremont numbers are drastically increasing. The Coronavirus is not something that people just hear about anymore—it is something they deal with in their own lives. The sickness, the hopes of recovery, the grief, the hospitalization—Claremont citizens are experiencing it all firsthand.

“Two of my friends have gotten it … and a relative of one of my teammates recently died from COVID,” CHS Freshman Phineus Choi said.

Unfortunately, Choi is not the only one who has had to experience the tragedy and sorrow that come hand in hand with the virus. Staying home as much as possible is proven to be one of the most effective ways of controlling the virus, and a way for LA residents to assure their safety.

“Do it for the healthcare workers that have been going through hell since March. … they did not sign up to have it be a war zone in hospitals, and to be scared to go home to their families every night, worried that they’re going to give them COVID. … It’s common decency to just stay home,” Kupetz said.

This means avoiding large social gatherings, or gatherings in general, and spending as little time as possible in public environments like shopping centers. Many hope the vaccine means the end is in sight, and that this will be the worst wave. Until then, CHS students are feeling the personal impact of a disease that was once only headlines in the paper.