A slide presented by the LA County Public Health Department on Dec. 2, 2020.

Coronavirus-related deaths are spiking in Los Angeles County following a surge of cases and hospitalizations during November, health officials said at a media briefing Wednesday.

“We’re seeing terrifying increases in numbers in LA County,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. To illustrate her point, she presented a series of graphs that showed hospitalizations and deaths have almost doubled in the last few weeks after an unprecedented acceleration in cases that still has not abated.

“We’re now at the worst point we’ve experienced thus far in the pandemic,” Ferrer said as she pleaded with the public to take any precautions they possibly can.

The increase in hospitalizations started with an acceleration in the spread of the virus, according to Ferrer, who said that over the last three weeks, the average number of new cases reported each day has more than tripled.

She showed a chart illustrating the onset date of a coronavirus infection, which is the day someone first had symptoms or the day they tested positive if they weren’t showing symptoms:

A slide presented by the LA County Public Health Department on Dec. 2, 2020.

The number of new cases reported each day has “far surpassed” the previous peak of new cases reported over the summer, she said. Today, she reported an additional 5,987 new cases. Long Beach’s cases, too, are spiking. On Tuesday, the city reported its worst stretch of new infections with 1,264 in the span of about a week. Today, the city reported 303 more cases.

As a logical outgrowth of the spike in new cases, hospitalizations in LA County have almost doubled over the last two weeks, Ferrer said. Today, there were 2,439 people in the hospital with COVID-19:

A slide presented by the LA County Public Health Department on Dec. 2, 2020.

Finally, because more people are becoming seriously ill, the number of deaths, too, has now begun to spike, with 40 reported today across LA County and two more in Long Beach.

The number of daily deaths so far hasn’t surpassed the numbers seen earlier in the pandemic, but since Nov. 9, the average number of daily deaths has increased 92%.

“These numbers represent real people,” Ferrer said:

A slide presented by the LA County Public Health Department on Dec. 2, 2020.

Those deaths, she said, have fallen disproportionately on Black and Latino residents and those living in poorer areas.

In less than two weeks, the rate of death among Latino residents increased from 1.5 to 3 per 100,000, and among Black residents, it increased from less than one to almost two deaths per 100,000, Ferrer said.

And neighborhoods with the worst poverty rates have about three times the death rate as more-resourced areas, she said.

The burden though, Ferrer said, is on everyone to try to stop the spread of coronavirus. She urged everyone to stay home when possible and, if not, wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from anyone outside their households.

Those, she noted, are still the only tools available to slow infections until a vaccine arrives.

“We do have a choice to make, each one of us,” Ferrer said. “Do we want to be part of the solution to this horrifying surge or do we want to be part of the problem?”

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.