The Covid-19 outbreak is so bad in Los Angeles County, ambulances have to wait hours to drop patients at emergency rooms.

Hospital beds are being crammed into gift shops, cafeterias and conference rooms as hospitals struggle to find any available space for patients.

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency told EMS employees Monday to only administer supplemental oxygen if a patient’s saturation levels dip below 90% to conserve depleting oxygen supplies. Paramedics were also told not to transport adult heart attack patients to the hospital unless they can restore “spontaneous circulation” on site — to focus care on patients who are more likely to survive.

Los Angeles is facing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus patients that is pushing area hospitals to the brink. Public health officials warn the already dire situation is projected to worsen in January.

“Many hospitals have reached a point of crisis and are having to make very tough decisions about patient care,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services, said at a press briefing Monday. She urged residents to avoid the emergency room unless they’re in need of serious medical attention.

Hospitals have been stretched to their limits since December when the region’s intensive care unit capacity rapidly dropped to zero, according to state health officials. Over 8,000 people are now hospitalized with the virus in the county, and 20% of those people are in intensive care units, data compiled by the county’s public health department shows. With the virus circulating widely, public health officials are warning that conditions will likely deteriorate before they improve.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and healthcare workers treat patients outside the emergency room at the Community Hospital of Huntington Park during a surge in positive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Huntington Park, California, December 29,


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