The US state of California has transformed from a model student to a problem child in the fight against the corona pandemic. In the metropolis of Los Angeles the full extent is evident.
Photo series with 14 pictures
The beeping of the life support machines is the only thing in the intensive care unit of a hospital in one of the poorest parts of the city The Angels can be heard. Several older men lie in a row in an artificial coma and are connected to ventilators. “We’re doing our best. But we’ve seen so many deaths in the past few weeks,” says nurse Vanessa Arias.
Arias works at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. A few minutes ago she had to bring the news to another family that her mother was no longer alive. “We are in the eye of the storm,” says the nurse.
A field hospital was built in front of the building
The MLK hospital on the border between the poor neighborhoods of Watts and Compton in South Los Angeles actually only has 131 beds. It is now treating 215 patients, most of them for Covid-19. The hospital chapel and a gift shop were converted into treatment rooms and a field hospital made of tents was built in front of the entrance.
The USA recently recorded almost 4,000 corona deaths in 24 hours. California is one of those with around 2,500 deaths per week pandemic-Become hotspots. On average, one person dies every 15 minutes in Los Angeles as a result of the virus disease. Ambulances with Covid 19 patients are currently often on the road for hours in the second largest US metropolis before they finally find a clinic with free beds.
Queue at a Corona test station: People who belong to minorities are particularly affected by Corona. (Source: Ringo Chiu / imago images)
Blacks and Latinos in particular fall ill with the corona virus
“If Los Angeles is the epicenter of the world, then this district is the corona epicenter of Los Angeles,” says clinic director Elaine Batchlor. The patients here in the south of the city are mainly blacks and Latinos, two populations that are affected by the above-average in the USA Coronavirus were hit: Their excess mortality rate increased by about 33 and 54 percent, according to one study. In contrast, the excess mortality rate among whites has risen by only about twelve percent.
Many of the patients at the MLK Hospital work in exposed professions: as salespeople or in local public transport. They often live in cramped conditions, so that protection against infection is hardly possible. “We see whole families get sick all at once,” says Arias, who herself comes from a Latino family and grew up in the neighborhood. “I could be one of them. It is very tragic to see people die who look like you.”
More than 150 refrigerated trailers for storing corpses
Taylor Reed who worked as a nurse in New York had worked when the clinics there reached their limits due to the pandemic in the spring of last year, finds the current situation even more serious: “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” says the 24-year-old.
In the spring, California was considered a role model in dealing with the pandemic. But that’s long gone. Now paramedics in Los Angeles are instructed not to bring people with low chances of survival to clinics. And with the number of deaths rising, authorities have started distributing more than 150 refrigerated trailers around the city to store bodies.
A refrigerated trailer in Los Angeles: The trailers are distributed throughout the city for temporary storage of the bodies. (Source: Gene Blevins / ZUMA Wire / imago images)
The consequences of the Christmas festivities are still to come
In the United States, around 365,000 deaths have been registered since the pandemic began, more than any other country in the world. The recent surge is also used by experts on gatherings during the holiday Thanksgiving Returned in late November. In addition, the effects of the Christmas days and all their family get-togethers are likely to come soon and make the numbers rise again.
Hospital boss Batchlor is concerned with the enormous pressure on the health staff: “Our doctors and nurses in the intensive care unit assure me that they have the situation under control. But I am worried because they have been under this pressure for so long.” National Guard doctors recently added to the clinic’s overworked staff.
With all the stress, nurse Arias tries to inform the relatives of all patients as regularly as possible. A few hours ago she called the family of an elderly woman whose condition was deteriorating. “I told them they had to come quickly,” says Arias. The family still didn’t make it in time to say goodbye.