A COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, November 19, 2020. Jae C. Hong/AP
Los Angeles County’s Emergency Medical Services said that in order to “conserve oxygen” during the COVID-19 crisis, ambulatory services should only administer supplemental oxygen to patients with low oxygen levels.
Since November 1, the county recorded a 905% increase in its weekly average of positive cases.
Health officials say that number is “likely to go up.”
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Los Angeles County’s Emergency Medical Services said that in order to “conserve oxygen” during the COVID-19 crisis, ambulatory services should administer supplemental oxygen only to patients with oxygen levels below 90%.
The EMS agency in its memo on Monday stated that supplemental oxygen should be given to patients with oxygen saturation levels below 90%. The county added that a level of 90% is sufficient for most patients to maintain normal bodily functions.
Although some patients who have lung disease or sleep apnea can have a normal reading of around 90%, the Minnesota Department of Health’s website says that a healthcare provider should be notified if the reading is below 95%.
Los Angeles County, which serves roughly 10 million residents, has been hit with a wave of coronavirus cases in the wake of the holiday season. Over 9,140 new cases were reported on Monday for a total of 827,498. Seventy-seven new deaths were also recorded for a total of 10,850.
Since November 1, the county recorded a 905% increase in its weekly average of positive cases. Health officials say that number is “likely to go up.”
“The steepness of this line is frightening in its implications for our healthcare system, our healthcare workers, and all the people we care about,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the LA Country Department of Public Health, said during a press conference.
“This is likely to be the worst month of the pandemic,” the county added in a statement on Monday. “The surge from the holiday gatherings is here and cases will increase due to parties and travelers returning to LA County.”
County health officials characterized the lack of ICU beds and other shortages as a “crisis,” but also added that hospitals had yet to make a formal declaration requiring them to ration equipment and triage patients.
A hospital that submits a formal declaration to change its standard of care would allow it “do the most good for the most number of patients as possible,” rather than putting a significant amount of effort towards a single patient,” officials said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized the deployment of the US Army Corps of Engineers to six hospitals in the county on Friday to assist with upgrading oxygen delivery systems.
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