Conference rooms, cafeterias, and gift shops have been converted into medical-care spaces as Los Angeles County hospitals continue to be overrun with COVID-19 patients.
While it will take weeks to determine if the Christmas holiday will lead to another surge in virus cases, health officials said the images of crowded airports and freeways will likely portend a more horrific situation at hospitals.
“The situation is truly dire,” county Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said, saying the county’s hospitals are “inundated with COVID patients.”
As of Monday, half of all the staffed hospital beds and two-thirds of intensive-care unit beds in the county are filled with COVID patients.
Hospital emergency departments are overwhelmed, Ghaly said, with medical centers spending 83% of their operating hours diverting ambulances to other hospitals due to lack of space and medical staff.
“Hospitals are treating patients in other areas that are not typically used for patient care at all, not just used for inpatient care. They’re using places like conference rooms or gift shops to provide patient care,” she added.
Between early November and Saturday, average daily coronavirus hospitalizations in LA county increased by 674% while daily deaths have jumped by 600%, with County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announcing another 73 COVID deaths on Monday.
“It has been hard to find joy this holiday season, in light of the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on so many across this county,” Ferrer said. “And the sad reality is that all indicators tell us that our situation may only get worse as we begin 2021.