Los Angeles health officials have told first responders to stop bringing adult patients who cannot be resuscitated to hospitals, citing a shortage of beds and staff as the latest surge in Covid-19 threatens to collapse systems. healthcare provider in America’s second-largest city.
The order, issued late Monday and effective immediately, marked an escalation in measures being taken by state and local officials across the country in the face of alarming increases in Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Waiting hours for ambulances
Ambulances have been forced to wait several hours to unload patients at some Los Angeles hospitals, causing delays throughout the county’s emergency response system.
“Patients in traumatic total arrest who meet the current Ref 814 criteria for determining death will not be resuscitated and will be determined to be dead at the scene and not transported,” said Marianne Gausche-Hill, medical director of the Agency for Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services.
Ref 814 refers to county policy on the determination and declaration of death in a patient who has not been transported to a hospital.
California, the most populous state in the United States, has been particularly hard hit by the latest spike in coronavirus infections, which some public health officials attribute to Thanksgiving holiday gatherings in November. Los Angeles is one of two California counties that reported a shortage of beds in intensive care units.
California reported 72,911 cases of Covid-19 on Monday, a single-day record since the start of the pandemic.
More than 20.8 million people have been infected with the virus in the United States since March and the death toll is 355.00. A record 129,000 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals as of Tuesday.
The worsening situation has increased pressure on state and local officials to accelerate the distribution of the two coronavirus vaccines so far approved for emergency use.
Federal health officials said Monday that more than two-thirds of the 15 million coronavirus vaccines manufactured by Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc and shipped within the United States have yet to be administered.
But some healthcare workers started getting their second shots of the Pfizer vaccine this week. Both vaccines require two doses three to four weeks apart.
The governors of New York and Florida have said they would penalize hospitals that do not dispense vaccines quickly.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a news conference Tuesday. “If a hospital has cared for all of its health workers, that’s fine, we will get that supply back and send it to essential workers.”
An additional 3 million doses of the two vaccines were shipped to US states on Tuesday, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement, bringing the total to more than 19 million in 21 days. .
Reduce the dose
The US government is considering cutting Moderna’s vaccine doses in half to free up the supply for more vaccines. But scientists at the National Institutes of Health and Modernism said Tuesday it could take two months to study whether doses cut in half would be effective.