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A COVID-19 ICU at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Southern California's COVID outbreak is in a terrible place, and hospitals haven't even been hit with a wave of potential infections from Christmas and New Year's.

The big picture: Hospitalizations have stabilized, but public health officials say that's just from infections linked to Thanksgiving, the L.A. Times reports.

  • More than one-third of the 10 million people in Los Angeles County are believed to have been infected with COVID.
  • Authorities are urging essential workers and people who run errands to wear masks when they're at home.
  • Officials hope the return of stay-at-home orders late last year will stem the tide.

Many mortuaries have had to turn away grieving families because they're at capacity, the owner of Los Angeles Funeral Service told ABC News.

  • The L.A. County coroner has been holding some bodies to free up mortuary capacity. Orange County brought in refrigerated trucks.

Between the lines: The advice of "stay home" doesn't work for essential workers and people who can't work from their couches.

  • "Los Angeles has small family housing with lots of people in them. It’s hard to be a gardener working from home," epidemiologist George Rutherford told NBC News.

The bottom line: Even a good-case scenario for Christmas and New Year's infections would leave hospitals in dire straits for the next month, said Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County director of health services.

Go deeper: America is tuning out coronavirus at its peak destruction

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Sports

2 tennis players test positive for coronavirus ahead of Australian Open

A tennis player (C) leaves hotel quarantine for a training session in Melbourne on Tuesday. The players to test positive for COVID-19 have not been publicly identified. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Two tennis players are among seven people involved in the Australian Open to test positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Melbourne, health authorities in the state of Victoria said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Some tennis stars including men's world No. 1 Novak Djokovic had sent a letter demanding Victorian authorities ease strict coronavirus quarantine rules for players ahead of the season-opening tennis major's start on Feb. 8.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
18 hours ago - Health

Racial disparities already emerging in vaccinations

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Black Americans are being vaccinated at far lower rates than white Americans in the states that collect such information, Kaiser Health News reports.

Why it matters: Communities of color are disproportionately vulnerable to the virus, and the vaccination trend so far is likely perpetuating these disparities.

11 hours ago - Health

Fauci: U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if vaccine rollout goes to plan

NIAID director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that if the coronavirus vaccine rollout by the incoming Biden administration goes as planned, the U.S. could start to see effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early-to-mid fall.

What he's saying: "If we [vaccinate] efficiently in April, May, June, July, August, we should have that degree of protection that could get us back to some form of normality. ... But we've also got to do it on a global scale," he said at a Harvard Business Review virtual event.