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Southern California Braces for January Covid Surge

California predicted to add more than 680,000 cases by end of January, according to AI model.



The United States is predicted to see an increase of nearly 3 million new coronavirus cases within the next three weeks. The country's current tally stands at more than 20 million.

With holiday travel spiking over New Year’s weekend, the United States continues to see a startling growth in coronavirus infections. On Jan. 2, the country reported a record shattering 280,000 new cases – the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic – and within the last week, both new daily cases and deaths have grown roughly 20%, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.

Nationally, Arizona is reporting the highest number of new cases per capita based on a seven-day rolling average, with California and Tennessee trailing closely behind.

“California – particularly Southern California – remains the epicenter nationally, and in many ways, globally as well,” said Andrew Schroeder, Direct Relief’s head of research and analysis.

Schroeder and his team have developed a model to track the spread of Covid-19 in the United States and identify counties at highest risk. The model uses current data and past trends to predict county-level growth over a three-week period. According to the model’s predictions, California is expected to see an increase of more than 683,000 cases within the next three weeks.

California is projected to see an increase of more than 683,000 new coronavirus cases within the next three weeks.

And, if current predictions hold, Southern California will be home to some of the nation’s highest growth rates throughout the month of January, with Los Angeles County leading the pack. “Los Angeles County continues to see shockingly high rates of Covid-19 incidence with another 270,000 cases forecast in this model run,” said Schroeder.

Orange County is predicted to add another 65,000 cases over the next three weeks, potentially becoming the site of the second highest growth rate in California. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties–the next highest risk counties–are expected to add roughly 56,000 and 55,000 new cases respectively, according to the model.

Nationally, hospitalizations reached a record high this week with more than 125,000 patients hospitalized for Covid-19, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

As California hospitals continue to absorb an influx of critically ill patients, many Southern California facilities are reportedly at or near capacity. In L.A. County, roughly 6,200 patients are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. The county has fewer than 50 available ICU beds, half of which are reserved for pediatric patients.

There is no indication hospitalization rates are flattening, according to data collected by HHS.

Direct Relief’s Response

Since January 27, 2020, when Direct Relief sent its first shipment to Wuhan, China in response to the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, the organization has delivered more than 30,000 shipments of PPE, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and other critical medical supplies to thousands of health facilities across the United States and internationally.

In total, Direct Relief has shipped more than 62 million masks, including N-95 respirators, 2.6 million face shields, and 1.7 million protective gowns, as well as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and ICU medications for critically ill patients.

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