Los Angeles County hospitals are now so inundated with COVID-19 patients, ambulance crews are reportedly being instructed to conserve use of oxygen and not to transport patients that have little chance of survival.
The Los Angeles Times obtained a memo by the L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency that was issued Monday. It states that ambulance crews should conserve oxygen by only giving it to patients who have oxygen saturation levels below 90%.
That comes following a directive last week that ambulance crews should not transport patients to the hospital who have virtually no chance for survival. CNN reports crews are instructed to attempt resuscitation for at least 20 minutes until the patient is stabilized. If a pulse is not restored or if the person is declared dead at the scene, they are not to be brought to the hospital.
The Times reports emergency rooms are so full, patients are waiting as long as eight hours inside ambulances before a bed opens up. That means those ambulances can't respond to other emergency calls, including those not related to the coronavirus.
Los Angeles County Public Health data shows there were nearly 7,900 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Sunday, with 775 new patients admitted just on that day. Twenty-one percent of the total patients were in intensive care.
The situation is only expected to get more dire in the coming weeks. County health officials say what they're dealing with now only represents the post-Thanksgiving surge.
“We do not believe that we are yet seeing the cases that stemmed from the Christmas holiday. This, sadly, and the cases from the recent New Year’s holiday, is still before us, and hospitals across the region are doing everything they can to prepare," L.A. County director of health services Dr. Christina Ghaly said at a Monday Briefing, the Times said.
County health data shows that there were 1,951 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations on Thanksgiving. It's increased 305% in the past six weeks.