'Even with tons of oxygen...they just die.' OC nurse describes heartbreaking scenes from COVID unit

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Many local hospitals are running out of ICU beds for the sickest COVID-19 patients.

The biggest fear is that after a surge of cases from Christmas and New Year's gatherings, the hospitals will have to start rationing care - basically meaning they would only treat people who have the best chance of survival.

MORE: Hospitals faced with stark choice: Who gets care, who gets turned away?
EMBED More News Videos

At Southern California hospitals, designated teams will be tasked with difficult decisions regarding patient care if resources run scarce.


Still, hundreds of people are dying every day in the state from the virus.

Nurses at St. Joseph Hospital in the city of Orange say it's heartbreaking to see it firsthand.

"They fight every day and they struggle to breathe every day even with tons of oxygen. And then you just see them die. They just die. And they fight dying. It's so sad," described Caroline Brandenburger, a COVID unit nurse.

The state has deployed nearly 90 refrigerated trailers, up from 60 a few weeks ago, for use as makeshift morgues.

Orange County reported 29 more COVID-19 fatalities on Monday, along with 3,259 new coronavirus cases. The county has 2,221 hospitalized coronavirus patients, including 544 in intensive care.

MORE: Vaccination pods open to more frontline workers in Orange County
EMBED More News Videos

Frontline workers waited up to two hours for a vaccine at North Net Training Center in Anaheim today, one of three point of dispensing sites or PODS across Orange County that opened to all tiers under Phase 1A this week.



MORE: Overflowing LA hospitals place patients in gift shops, conference rooms
EMBED More News Videos

Some hospitals in Los Angeles County are so packed with COVID-19 patients, they're resorting to placing patients in conference rooms or even gift shops.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.