Ongoing COVID-19 surge in CA has ICUs at capacity, hospitals turning to desperate measures

With intensive care units in Southern California and the Central Valley lurching perilously close to full capacity Tuesday, officials are turning to increasingly desperate measures to prevent the state’s coronavirus surge from killing more patients.

Hospitalizations are continuing to rise at unprecedented levels, and officials have limited options for boosting capacity. Among the tools: Canceling scheduled surgeries; keeping critically ill patients in emergency rooms; sending ICU patients into step-down units earlier; training nurses from elsewhere in hospitals to help with intensive care; and increasing the numbers of patients an ICU nurse can treat.

California has recorded a cumulative 1.65 million coronavirus cases and more than 21,400 COVID-19 deaths. The state has far fewer cumulative cases and deaths per capita compared with other states, but a surge in infections related to pandemic fatigue and Thanksgiving has resulted in the worst wave of the pandemic so far.

Ambulances waiting at hospitals for six hours

In Los Angeles County, emergency rooms are so crowded that some ambulances have been forced to wait as long as six hours to offload patients, said Cathy Chidester, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency. Some patients arriving by ambulance are asked to sit in the emergency department lobby so the ambulance can depart.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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