Los Angeles (Xinhua + Diplomat.so) - Los Angeles became the first county in the United States to surpass 1 million total cases since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, local health officials said Saturday.
The most populous county in the country, home to 10 million residents, on Saturday reported 14,669 new confirmed cases and 253 additional deaths, pushing its cumulative cases up to 1,003,923 with 13,741 related deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
There are 7,597 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in the county with 22 percent of them in intensive care, said the department in a daily release.
Local health officials also confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus strain, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom. The individual found to have contracted the virus is a male, who recently spent time in L.A. County but has traveled to Oregon, where he is currently in quarantine.
The more contagious variant has been previously detected in Southern California's San Diego and San Bernardino.
"Presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County means virus transmission can happen more easily and residents must more diligently follow the safety measures put in place to prevent additional cases, hospitalizations, and deaths," officials noted in the release.
Los Angeles County's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned the presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles is troubling, as the county's healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized.
"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. This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes," she added. ■