Holiday travel worries experts as COVID-19 surge leaves SoCal ICUs with no space

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the holidays begin, health officials remain worried about the effect travel will have on the COVID-19 pandemic which has left Southern California with no capacity left in hospital intensive care units.

Los Angeles County on Thursday reported another daily record number of deaths, 148 in a single day. The county has now recorded a total of 9,299 deaths since the pandemic started.

The county also reported 13,678 additional coronavirus infections Thursday, for a total of 677,299 to date.

There are 6,499 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County hospitals.

As California becomes the first state to pass 2 million total coronavirus cases, the post-Thanksgiving surge has left Southern California hospitals with 0.0% available capacity in their ICUs. Any region that falls under 15% must remain under the state's latest stay-at-home order for at least three weeks.

The health-care community is reporting being pushed to the limit. Nurses at four Orange County hospitals held a protest after their facilities were allowed to increase the nurse-to-patient ratio.

"So instead of giving us more nurses, we got more work," said Karen Rodriguez, a registered nurse. "Patients are gonnna die. Nurses are gonna break."

As California passes 2 million cases, surge leaves hospitals strained
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California has become the first state to pass 2 million coronavirus cases as holiday travel brings the potential for a worsening surge.

Los Angeles County continues to break its own records in numbers of deaths, hospitalizations and new daily cases. The county reported 145 deaths on Wednesday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

The county is forecasting that from Nov. 1 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021 the county will see 8,700 deaths from COVID-19.

"It is highly likely that every time you or others in your household leave your home you will come into contact with someone who is infected," said county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
Ferrer says anyone who travels for the holidays should quarantine at home for 10 days after they arrive, to avoid spreading infection to others.

Still, there is some hope on the horizon. The CDC says over nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered around the country, with 1 million of them already administered. The doses are going first to health-care workers and patients in nursing facilities.

But even with the vaccine arriving, doctors warn that if the current rapid spread of infection continues hospitals will soon run out of staff to care for patients and doctors will be forced into decisions about who lives and who dies.
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