Thursday, March 4

Healthcare collapse in California: hospitals reject ambulances as they close to full ICU occupancy


With 29 beds available for 10 million inhabitants, Los Angeles exemplifies the dramatic situation in the United States, which reaches daily records of cases, hospitalizations and deaths

A team of param
A team of paramedics transfers a patient with symptoms of Covid-19, this Wednesday in Hawthorne (California).APU GOMESAFP
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It was a matter of time. The dreaded strain of the coronavirus detected for the first time in the United Kingdom has been discovered in a patient from the United States. It’s about a 20-year-old from Colorado that remains isolated in Elbert County, southeast of Denver, and has no travel history, according to information released by the state governor, Jared Polis. It is a problem added to a Dantesque situation due to the rise of Covid-19 cases in various parts of the country. Only on Monday was another negative record broken, that of hospitalizations nationwide: 121,235.

Colorado authorities are working to identify possible contacts of the young man infected with the new strain, a much more contagious variant which is putting British hospitals in check and could force further restrictions in various parts of the US. In California, where the daily death average has climbed to 230 in the last week, Governor Gavin Newsom has extended the order to stay at home in various regions. Many will start the year without the usual freedom of movement.

It is the consequence of a dramatic situation, especially in the Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country. The bad news keeps happening and the scenes in the hospitals are increasingly difficult to digest in a power like the United States. At the USC Medical Center – the University of Southern California– ambulances were stopped for a period of 12 hours and there were not enough beds to care for about 30 patients who needed immediate attention, according to data from the newspaper Los Angeles Times.

Gardena’s main hospital, south of Los Angeles, it was running out of oxygen on Monday by operating at 140% capacity, and the Huntington Park Community Hospital decided close its doors to the public Monday for a few hours. The crisis is such that some patients have ended up being treated in conference rooms and in the gift shop of medical centers. Others simply have to wait in the ambulances until they can find a space in the hospital.

The main problem is precisely that, the lack of beds available in intensive care units. On Tuesday there were 29 available in a region where 10 million people reside and which will soon cross the black barrier of 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday, 94% of the region’s hospitals that deal with emergencies were rejecting some ambulances. “Soon there will be no places for those ambulances to go,” he pointed out to the Times Christina Ghaly, the director of Los Angeles County Health Services.

The authorities fear, moreover, that the situation worsened after the Christmas holidays due to the volume of registered travelers and family reunions, despite constant warnings from the authorities to avoid them. In total, almost 20 million people – out of a population of 331 million – have been infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic began in the US, with 337,210 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Only on Monday, 168,817 new cases and 1,718 deaths were presented.

“The increases [de contagios] and the impact on ICUs across the country is absolutely devastating, “said Peter Hoez, an epidemiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “It’s the kind of nightmare scenario we’ve worked so hard to avoid.”.

And the worst may be yet to come. Anthony Fauci, the epidemiologist at the helm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expects January to be worse than December due to the number of trips in the last few days and family reunions. “That is what worries us: that in addition to the increase [actual]We’re going to have an increase superimposed on that increase, which could make January even worse than December, “Fauci said.

Without coming close to last year’s numbers, the movement in American airports has been remarkable in recent days. Last Sunday a record of passengers was exceeded during the pandemic, more than 1.2 million people, according to the Transport authorities. If the tidal wave after Thanksgiving is being tough, the effect of Christmas and New Years will be expected to be worse.

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