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COVID-19 overwhelming LA hospitals

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 1/05/21, 05:52 pm

Ambulances should stop taking patients to hospitals if they have virtually no chance of surviving, Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services said last week. That includes people whose heart or breathing has stopped if they cannot be resuscitated. Ambulance crews are also supposed to administer less oxygen to help with strained supplies during the pandemic.

How bad are things in California? More than 7,700 patients are in the hospital with the coronavirus in Los Angeles County. On Monday, there were a total of about 25 open ICU beds spread across 70 reporting hospitals in the county, compared to more than 250 open beds in early April. The state’s COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic started stands at 26,500, and most of the state is under a stay-at-home order. About 1 percent of California’s 40 million residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Dig deeper: Listen to Dr. Charles Horton answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccines on The World and Everything In It podcast.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Tue, 01/05/2021 09:50 pm

    My brother got Covid about a month ago in California. He could not get seen by anyone. Doctor's office wouldn't see him for two weeks. Urgent care wouldn't go near him, even with a mask! It sounds like, unless the disease has progressed to a dangerous point, the medical community won't intervene. Why? After almost nine months, we have no early treatments to help avoid hospitalizations? This is bizarre. We can approve an ineffective drug like Remdesevir, come up with two vaccines, but no effective treatments? I wish WORLD would investigate HCQ and Ivermectin. I fear many thousands have died unnecessarily.

    And looks like obsessing on masks and lockdowns isn't working all that well.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Wed, 01/06/2021 09:57 am

    I hope your brother is doing better. Those are good questions, and I would not live in California for any amount of money. Locally, the Remdesevir didn't work with the intended success, so they switched to something else they nicknamed bam bam. I haven't heard an official update from our local authorities, but our positive rate is up, hospitalizations have doubled, and deaths have increased, so I don't think their current treatment is any better. 

  • ER
    Posted: Fri, 01/08/2021 04:26 pm


    I am a physician who worked in Emergency Medicine for 35 years. I submitted the below comment via the email address without a response (also submitted an email to ask if the original comment was received). No response. Here is what I wrote back on December 9....

    As a physician who practiced Emergency Medicine for 30+ years, I have two issues with the segment...California Scrambles to Increase Hospital Capacity. 

    Issue one. (Note: this is not the first time the podcast has used this wording) Some California hospitals say they’re close to reaching a breaking point as more and more COVID-19 patients check in. Patients do NOT "check in" to an acute care hospital as if it is a motel. Patients are admitted to the hospital by a health care practitioner trained to determine who needs hospital level care. Please refrain from using the "check-in" wording in the future.

    Issue two. A single (snapshot in time) data point The state has almost 8,000 ICU beds in total. With the recent surge, only about 1,700 of those beds are now empty. must be interpreted in context. As an ER doctor who has practiced in rural, metropolitan, academic and veteran's hospitals, we regularly had ICUs at full capacity (meaning no beds available and the patients remaining in the Emergency Department for hours awaiting an open bed) during November - February. My suggestion is that you dig into the data and find out how many ICU beds were "empty" in California on the same date in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. Comparing the last four years with 2020 is considerably more meaningful....and less fear producing to your listeners.

    Thanks for your hard work and consistently excellent podcast. I have recommended it to many friends and colleagues.



    Edward J Read Jr MD FACEP

    Assistant Professor, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Emergency Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University

    Richmond, Virginia

    Honesty lives confident and care-free.

    Posted: Mon, 01/11/2021 09:07 am

    Dr. Read,

    Thanks for sharing your expertise here. One of the things I love about the World comment section is the respect and intelligence of the commenters.

    I know in many states, hospitals have added to their ICU capacity, and the new, increased capacity is also nearly full. So, percentages alone might not be apples to apples.

    Also, I assume November-February beds are usually full because of the flu, but I have heard this is an incredibly light flu season, due to so much masking and distancing.

    I'd be curious to hear your reactions to these two points, if you think they're relevant.

    Thanks much!