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LA County hospitals forced to make ‘tough decisions’ as Covid kills someone about every 15 minutes

An ambulance body waits with a patient outside the Coast Plaza Hospital emergency room during a surge of coronavirus cancer (COVID-19) cases in Los Angeles, California, December 26, 2020.

David Swanson | Reuters

The Covid-19 outbreak is so bad in Los Angeles County, ambulances from to wait hours to drop patients at emergency rooms.

Hospital beds are being crammed into gift shops, cafeterias and meeting rooms as hospitals struggle to find any available space for patients.

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Intervention told EMS employees Monday to only administer supplemental oxygen if a patient’s saturation levels dip below 90% to preserve depleting oxygen supplies. Paramedics were also told not to transport adult heart attack patients to the medical centre unless they can restore “spontaneous circulation” on site — to focus care on patients who are more likely to survive.

Los Angeles is surface an unprecedented surge in coronavirus patients that is pushing area hospitals to the brink. Public health officials caution the already dire situation is projected to worsen in January.

“Many hospitals have reached a point of crisis and are get to make very tough decisions about patient care,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health navies, said at a press briefing Monday. She urged residents to avoid the emergency room unless they’re in need of moment medical attention.

Hospitals have been stretched to their limits since December when the region’s focused care unit capacity rapidly dropped to zero, according to state health officials. Over 8,000 living soul are now hospitalized with the virus in the county, and 20% of those people are in intensive care units, data compiled by the county’s followers health department shows. With the virus circulating widely, public health officials are warning that conditions purpose likely deteriorate before they improve.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and healthcare workers treat patients disinvolved the emergency room at the Community Hospital of Huntington Park during a surge in positive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situations in Huntington Park, California, December 29, 2020.

Bing Guan | Reuters

Across California, roughly 370 people die from Covid-19 every day, based on a weekly mediocre — a near 46% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In Los Angeles County, the coronavirus exhausts someone every 15 minutes on average, the county’s Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during the summary on Monday. The county surpassed 11,000 total Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, with 1,000 of those coming in teeny-weeny than a week, the public health department said in a statement.

Everyone in the area should assume that they’ll be exposed to the cancer whenever they leave their house, Ferrer said. One in five people who are tested for Covid-19 in Los Angeles County maintain the virus.

“We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic, and that’s hard to guess,” Ferrer said. “The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and restitution yielding travelers.”

Staff stretched thin

Los Angeles County is still dealing with the flood of Covid-19 spurred from the Thanksgiving red-letter day and have yet to see the cases that will likely follow the late-December holidays, Ghaly said. Hospitals are now trying to do “the whole kit they can to prepare.”

Some coronavirus patients are forced to wait more than a day before an intensive care element bed opens up for them, Dr. Brad Spellberg, the chief medical officer at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, directed CNBC in an email.

A healthcare worker checks on patients inside an oxygen tent outside the emergency room at the Community Sanatorium of Huntington Park during a surge in positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Huntington Park, California, December 29, 2020.

Bing Guan | Reuters

The clinic has had to redeploy some of its health-care workers to treat the influx of ICU patients, which means there’s no time to conduct elective surgeries or other lifesaving means, such as colonoscopies, Spellberg said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press briefing on Monday that the country has sent medical assistance teams to the Los Angeles area to help reduce the stress on hospitals. However, if there’s another breaker of Covid-19 cases following the December holidays, the additional staff won’t be enough, Spellberg said.

“Our staff are still bent thin, particularly in the ICU. One cannot just create more ICU nurses and doctors,” Spellberg said in an email, asking people to remain following public health guidance such as mask wearing, physical distancing and avoiding crowds.

‘We’re being pressed’

The surge comes as California and other states across the U.S. have started to administer their initial shots of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

The dignified has received just over 2 million doses of vaccines, but only 24% of them have been administered, go together to the state’s department of public health database last updated on Wednesday. Newsom said on Monday that the convert is moving too slow and the state “wants to see things go much faster.”

Ravina Kullar, a Los Angeles-based infectious disease pro and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told CNBC in a phone interview that she expects inoculations longing accelerate in the coming weeks, though the shots won’t immediately work. It takes a few weeks for immunity to build, and too few are being actuality to develop herd immunity that would protect the broader population.

“I think we will see some kind of dependability, plateauing out and decrease in cases, but it’s just going to take time,” Kullar said. “I think it’s going to take until the springtime, the summertime to in effect see an impact there.”

Kullar, who works in long-term care facilities and nursing homes in Los Angeles, said every WC she works with is battling a Covid-19 outbreak. Those residents, alongside health-care workers, are first in line to meet vaccine shots in California as they’re rolled out, Newsom said, adding that there are about 3 million living soul in the state’s first vaccination phase.

“We’re being crushed,” Kullar said. “We’re very short staffed. I’m exhausted, my associates are exhausted. It’s a very tough situation out here.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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