Motorists wait in long lines to get a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Monday January. 4, in Los Angeles. Ringo Chiu / AP

A feared spike in coronavirus infections has begun in Los Angeles County during the holidays, where roughly one in five residents who test for Covid-19 will now test positive, officials in the hardest-hit area said on Monday, naming the one Situation a “human catastrophe” The prediction of the death toll could soar to more than 1,000 people per week.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County director of public health, said Covid-19 hospitalizations in the county reached an all-time high of 7,697 patients, 21% of whom are in intensive care, a number she described as “distressing” .

“The expected increase in winter holidays has started,” said Ferrer. “The increase in cases is likely to continue for weeks due to holiday and New Years parties and returning travelers.”

The county’s health officials reported 77 new deaths on Monday, bringing the total to 10,850 and an additional 9,142 cases in the county. Ferrer pointed out that Monday’s subpar numbers reflected a delay in reporting the holiday weekend and the closure of some test sites.

According to Ferrer, one person now dies from the virus every 15 minutes in LA County.

“We’re likely to see the worst of conditions in January when we faced the entire pandemic, and it’s hard to imagine,” she said.

With hospitals and morgues full of bodies, the county coroner’s office has been storing additional victims, a growing number that has climbed to 757 bodies, a coroner’s spokesman told CNN, according to the LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Forensic Office.

LA District Manager Hilda Solis described the situation in the county, which has doubled the total number of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started last month, as “a human disaster”.

“Hospitals declare internal disasters and must open church gyms to serve as hospital units. Our healthcare workers are physically and mentally exhausted and sick, ”she said.

With infections continuing to spiral out of control in the country’s most populous county, Solis warned the situation, which is already “beyond our imagination and may become incomprehensible”.

This post has been updated to take into account that one in five LA residents who tested for the virus tested positive.

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