The coronavirus crisis battering Los Angeles County’s medical system is reaching increasingly desperate levels, with healthcare providers running low on equipment, ambulance operators being told not to bring patients who have virtually no chance of survival to hospitals, and officials scrambling to ensure they can provide enough lifesaving oxygen for critically ill patients.
The number of COVID-19 patients in the county’s beleaguered hospitals has hit an all-time high, according to data released Monday, and officials say they expect the situation to worsen in the coming weeks as a new surge of people who were infected during the holidays become ill.
With available resources being stretched thin, hospitals are trying to discharge patients as quickly as possible to free up space for those most in urgent need of care.
But there are limits to this strategy because the number of new cases continues to grow so rapidly. Around Christmas, more than 700 people with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections were entering L.A. County hospitals every day, but only about 500 people were leaving — either through discharge or death — on a daily basis.