As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the United States, health officials in California have shared heartbreaking stories about dying victims' last moments with their families, in a continued effort to educate others about the severity of the disease.
While speaking at a press conference on Monday, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis shared a warning about family gatherings and their potential deadly impact, as she noted that the current COVID situation "is more dire than ever before."
Continuing her remarks by stating that "dying from COVID in the hospital means dying alone," Solis, 63, shared that family members succumbing to the novel respiratory illness have been saying their goodbyes to loved ones on tablets and mobile phones as "visitors are not allowed into hospitals for their own safety."
"One of the more heartbreaking conversations that our healthcare workers share is about these last words when children apologize to their parents and grandparents for bringing COVID into their homes, for getting them sick," she said. "And these apologies are just some of the last words that loved ones will ever hear as they die alone."
"Please don't let this be your family. Don't let this be your parents or your grandparents," Solis added. "Please, for your loved ones, stay home, stay safe, keep your loved ones alive."
As positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the nation and the globe, California has been hit especially hard by the virus in recent months.
There have been at least 11,994 coronavirus-related deaths in the county since the start of the pandemic, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, with 288 fatalities reported on Tuesday evening alone.
According to the department, "on average, 10 people are testing positive for COVID-19 every minute" and "10-12% of those end up hospitalized, stressing our health care system even more."
"Our hearts go out to the families that are grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19," L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a recent statement. "Every day we report a large number of people newly infected with COVID-19, it is like a reset on the clock for when we can get back to our recovery journey."
Ferrer added, "There are just too many people spreading the virus, too many people sick and hospitalized and each person that dies is one too many."
In addition to a stay-at-home order, L.A. County residents are now required to quarantine for 10 days after travel to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 4,406 new coronavirus deaths and 229,712 new cases were reported in the United States, according to a New York Times database. There has also been an average of 249,961 cases per day over the past week, "an increase of 37 percent from the average two weeks earlier."
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