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Capacity at Southern California’s intensive care units has plummeted to 0 percent this week — a grim sign that the recent surge of COVID-19 cases could over-burden the local healthcare system.
Although officials said the zero percent figure doesn’t mean that absolutely no beds are available, it is a warning that the ICU capacity is becoming slimmer and slimmer amid climbing case numbers in the region, The Wall Street Journal reported.
ICU capacity in Southern California — which includes Los Angeles County as well as
Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties — sat at 0.5 percent Wednesday before plunging to zero Thursday, the paper said.
In LA County, more than 1,000 people with COVID-19 are receiving care in intensive care units, quadruple the number from Nov. 1, according to The Los Angeles Times.
By early January, that number could rise to anywhere from 1,600 to 3,600 patients if transmission trends remain the same, the paper reported.
However, the county has only 2,500 licensed ICU beds.
“If the numbers continue to increase the way they have, I am afraid that we may run out of capacity within our hospitals,” Dr. Denise Whitfield, associate medical director with the LA County emergency medical services agency and an emergency room physician at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, told the Times.
“And the level of care that every resident in Los Angeles County deserves may be threatened just by the fact that we are overwhelmed.”
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