California might be forced to take dire measures and begin rationing out medical care after a surge of novel coronavirus cases has brought intensive care units and hospitals to close to their maximum capacities, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The number of patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 is now more than double its previous peak in July. As of Saturday, around 17,400 people had been forced to seek medical care due to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. Of those 17,400 patients currently in the hospital, around 3,600 of those are in ICUs, per The Associated Press.
Many parts of the state are not equipped to handle the demand, and all of Southern California — in addition to all 12 counties in the San Joaquin Valley -— have officially exhausted their regular ICU capacity. Many hospitals have started to construct surge spacing to deal with the influx. In the state overall, the ICU capacity is currently at 98 percent full.
As a result, a document that was distributed to doctors at four different hospitals in Los Angeles County asked healthcare workers to consider a new strategy that focused on saving “as many patients as possible” instead of doing everything to save each life, as paraphrased by the AP.
“That means those less likely to survive won’t get the same kind of care offered in normal times,” the news outlet summarized.
The document itself called the need to ration medical attention “unavoidable.”
“Some compromise of standard of care is unavoidable… resources are clearly not available to provide care in a regular manner,” it read.
The call for a shift in care comes after health experts expressed fears that the crisis will only get worse, as cases continue to rise despite strict lockdown orders. Moreover, social gatherings over the holidays will likely drive the virus’s spread, and a state model has predicted that the number of Californians who will seek hospital care due to the coronavirus could be as high as 75,000 by mid-January.
Ahead of the holidays, Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer begged residents to remain vigilant, especially when meeting up with friends or people outside of the household.
“Places where people from different households gather and do not follow safety directives contributes to unnecessary COVID-19 spread that results in hospitalizations and deaths that could have been avoided,” she said.
“Following the safety measures saves lives and is our only way to protect essential workers and our hospitals,” she added.
Meanwhile, health professionals are keeping an eye on a new strain of the coronavirus that has emerged in the United Kingdom. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, the variant reportedly has a substantially higher infection rate than the original virus.