LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — The California COVID-19 crisis is worsening by the day, with ICUs at or near capacity at many hospitals.
In LA County, ICU capacity is under 2%, which is essentially less than a hundred beds left for a population of more than 10 million people.
It’s the situation health officials have warned about, but the reality is hitting hard now.
Wednesday, California reported another new record of nearly 54,000 COVID cases and 293 deaths in just the past 24 hours.
Latest coronavirus headlines
- President Biden issues orders requiring masks in federal buildings
- Chicago teachers union calls on members to refuse to report to school over COVID-19 concerns
- Amazon offers to help US with vaccine efforts in letter to President Biden
- New, more contagious strain of coronavirus fuels spike in Southern California cases
- Watch: Michigan COVID-19 nurse sings ‘Amazing Grace’ at National Mall memorial
According to LA County, some ambulance crews have had to wait up to six hours to offload patients.
“We’re going through perhaps the most intense and urgent moment,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
The governor has implemented the state’s mass fatality program, dispersing 60 refrigerated storage units to handle emergency overflow for morgues.
He stressed another sobering fact in urging Californians to stay home.
“We just had to order 5,000 additional body bags, just purchased for the state and we just distribute them,” Newsom said.
The state is bringing in hundreds of additional medical workers, including 50 from the California National Guard.
The strain on hospitals is expected to get even worse.
“Unfortunately, people are not adjusting to the fact that this virus has spread and spread significantly more than the past nine months,” Dr. Thomas Yadega, Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center said.
It is the goal that two million Californians will be vaccinated in the next two months, but first, the state’s frontline workers are set to get the vaccine.
On another front, union nurses are pushing back against a state program allowing hospitals to seek waivers on patient ratios, forcing nurses to care for more patients.
The California Nurses Association claims it’s a recipe for more deaths.
“To rollback those standards now means we are running from patient to patient. It means we do not have the time to respond to each patient’s rapidly-changing care condition, to monitor their subtle changes, that may mean living to see another day or dying on that day,” Zenei Cortez, President, California Nurses Association.
North of the state, in the Bay area, ICU capacity dropped below 15% Wednesday. A stay-at-home order for that region will go into effect Thursday.