California hospitals are experiencing many challenges in dealing with the pandemic. The measures imposed by authorities are not working to flatten the infection curve – in fact, positive cases are still increasing – and people are no longer believing in containment. They are following less and less the recommendations of “the experts.” But in addition to the collapse due to the non-availability of ICU beds, another tragic problem must be added: the shortage of supplies and oxygen.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Los Angeles County hospitals are running out of oxygen tanks and other supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and patients are already beginning to wait in ambulances before being admitted to specialty care facilities.”
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the country and is also the current epicenter of the pandemic in California and the entire United States. In the entire Golden State, the number of infections is 2,240,116 cases; and total deaths have already exceeded 25,000.
On the other hand, there are already more than 300,000 vaccinated, according to the Los Angeles Times map.
Hospitals are running out of oxygen and supplies to fight the virus
According to the New York Post, California authorities “say they are having trouble getting the necessary amount of oxygen to critically ill coronavirus patients, and that supply problems have caused at least five Los Angeles County hospitals to declare an ‘internal disaster’ on Sunday,” this tragic situation includes the refusal of ambulances.
Also, as stated, the oxygen shortage is not the only blow that health centers are receiving. There are very few containers and a lack of maintenance to hospital pipes that are aging and deteriorating. As explained by the Los Angeles Times, the pipes in healthcare facilities are breaking down and cannot maintain enough pressure due to the enormous amounts of oxygen needed to keep up with the high number of patients.
Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of Los Angeles County Health Services, mentioned that the high flow of oxygen through the pipes causes them to freeze, “and obviously, if they freeze, then you can’t have a good flow of oxygen.”
One of the hospitals facing this oxygen shortage problem is Gardena Memorial Hospital, located about 13 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
Chief Executive Officer Kevan Metcalfe said the hospital is low on oxygen and if it runs out, it could result in “very, very deep problems,” according to the Times.
According to the quoted New York Post article, “coronavirus patients typically need 60 to 80 liters of oxygen per minute, while other patients can get six liters per minute.
Clearly the situation in Los Angeles has worsened due to the increase in cases. For example, last Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that more than 7,000 COVID-19 patients were currently hospitalized with coronavirus, and about 20 percent of the total number of patients are in the intensive care unit.
“The number of hospitalizations reported Tuesday was almost 1,000 percent more than two months ago, health officials said. With more patients potentially on the way, officials fear the problem could get worse,” the Post reported.
“Our health care workers are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, and this current path of COVID-19 hospitalizations is not sustainable,” said Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County public health director. She urged Los Angeles residents to stay home from the holidays. Yet, Californians are increasingly ignoring the recommendations of political and health authorities and despite them, cases continue to grow significantly.