LA County exceeds 11K COVID-19 deaths, ICU capacity remains 0%

(Left to right) Dr. Tamara Noelle Chambers, Brian Carrillo, a Respiratory Care Practitioner, and Dr. Jee-Hong Kim conduct a tracheostomy procedure on a COVID-19 patient while Meliza Jesus, ICU Registered Nurse, assists in ICU Ward at LAC+USC Medical Center, November 23, 2020. The hospitals are experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge. Hospital capacity is decreasing to alarming levels and our healthcare workers are pushed to the limits at the peak of the pandemic. LA County officials urge every single person living and working in LA County to follow safety protocols and health officer order. | Photo by Los Angeles County

Emergency services stretched thin as hospitals continue to be overrun

LOS Angeles County continues to hold onto its title of the worst, coronavirus-striken county in the country.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 5, LA County has recorded 11,071 deaths related to the COVID-19 so far, putting into sharper focus the dire situation in the county as ICUs across the Southern California region continue to be at a critical low. (The single-day increase from Monday to Tuesday was 224 deaths.)

In other words, in less than a week, the county docked more than 1,000 new COVID-19 deaths; on Wednesday, Dec. 30, the county reported 10,056 fatalities.

Currently, 7,898 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 with 21% of these patients in intensive care, according to LA County Public Health. As of Tuesday, there were 13,512 new cases of COVID-19 across the county.

The influx of cases, hospitalizations and deaths likely stems from the holiday season when thousands of people, although advised against partaking in large gatherings, celebrated with people outside their households.

“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,” LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic. And that’s hard to imagine.”

Since the beginning of December, hospitals and health care workers have been overrun with record-breaking numbers of cases that have exhausted the health care system in Southern California.

“Hospitals are declaring internal disaster and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units,” said LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who called the situation in the county a “human disaster.”

She added, “Our health care workers are physically and mentally exhausted and sick.”
The worsening state in the county means that even those who need emergency health care services but don’t have COVID-19 may not be taken to a hospital. The coronavirus onslaught continues to devastate the entire community as ambulance crews across the county are advised to not take patients who have little chance of survival to hospitals.

According to the LA County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), if a patient shows no signs of breathing or a pulse, EMS will try to resuscitate a pvatient for at least 20 minutes, and if they are stabilized, they would be taken to the hospital.

But patients who are declared dead or have no discernible pulse will not be transported to a hospital.

Supplemental oxygen is also at a critical low, meaning that EMS will only administer oxygen to patients with oxygen saturations below 90% — having an oxygen saturation of at least 90% is enough to maintain the regular circulation of blood in the body.

These changes to emergency services come at a time when a projected 1 in 17 people in LA County are currently infected with the disease. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)

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