Los Angeles County continues to get slammed by the coronavirus. One in every five residents is testing positive while hospitalizations and deaths have overwhelmed local hospitals.
In just slightly over one month the number of infections has more than doubled from 400,000 cases to over 800,000 cases. Hospitals and intensive care units are at full capacity with over 7,600 people hospitalized and with 21% of those patients lying in ICU beds fighting for their lives.
Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said the county is seeing one death every 15-minutes. As a result of hospitals having no more space, ambulance crews have been instructed to not transport patients who appear to have a slim chance of survival. Let them die.
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Even those who are lucky enough to be transported are having to wait until someone dies or recovers before a bed is available. “Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units. It’s a human disaster,” supervisor Hilda Solis said.
Things are about to get even worse according to officials who say the county has yet to see the surge from holiday get-togethers. Ferre 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 returning travelers. We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic, and that’s hard to imagine.”
Just how bad are things? For starters, they’re running out of oxygen and can’t get enough to administer to every patient who needs it. Prior to the pandemic, they were in good shape and ambulance drivers would transport everyone who needed it regardless of their chances of survival.
In a memo to ambulance drivers, the agency said, “Effective immediately, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EMS and 9-1-1 Receiving Hospitals, adult patients (18 years of age or older) in blunt traumatic and nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) shall not be transported [if]return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is not achieved in the field.”
EMS has been advised that if a patient does not respond to resuscitation within 20 minutes, they are to discontinue their efforts and move on to the next sick person and declare the victim dead. The body will have to await separate transportation to a morgue.
Ambulance companies sent the following memo to their drivers. “Given the acute need to conserve oxygen, effective immediately, EMS should only administer supplemental oxygen to patients with oxygen saturation below 90%.”
Because of bed shortages, ambulance drivers are having to wait in line for hours. “We are waiting two to four hours minimum to a hospital and now we are having to drive even further… then wait another three hours,” EMT Jimmy Webb said.
According to Dr. Marc Eckstein, the commander of the Los Angeles Fire Department, emergency telephone lines being inundated with calls. Officials are telling residents to not call 911 unless absolutely necessary.
“One of our biggest challenges right now is getting our ambulances out of the emergency department,” Eckstein said. “When our paramedics and EMTs transport a patient to an emergency department, there’s a transfer of care that has to take place. Patients who are unstable or unable to be safely transferred to the waiting room or to a chair, need a bed in the emergency department to be transferred to. And those beds are lacking right now.”
“I think this next four-to-six week period is going to be critical with our system being taxed,” Eckstein added.
Let’s remember that California is a blue state. They followed COVID-19 guidelines to the best of their ability and look at where they are now.
Whether this crisis is a result of the state government not assuring their guidelines were followed, or a result of California’s freewheeling do whatever we want to liberal population, things are nonetheless bad and getting worse.