Medical troops arrive to assist hospitals overwhelmed by COVID patients in LA, Riverside counties

With staffs running thin and hospitals across Southern California nearing their breaking point, medical troops are joining the frontlines to help the strained health care system care for coronavirus patients.

Troops are now on duty, joining workers at several hospitals in Riverside County and the Los Angeles area....

"Most of the people, they are Air Force nurses and Army medics," said Dr. Nancy Blake, chief nursing officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

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The Department of Defense is expected to send around 150 members of the military to shore up staffs at medical centers, where the spread of the virus and the overwhelming number of hospital patients is pushing the healthcare system to its limits.

Harbor-UCLA has a team of 20 nurses and medics.

"Medical troops are helping tremendously. We've gotten both medical troops and additional registered nurses from other parts of the country who are working through the states, and every person helps," Blake said.

Nearly 8,000 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in L.A. County as of Saturday. Riverside University Health System officials reported 1,648 COVID-positive hospitalizations countywide Friday,

Harbor-UCLA officials say more than half of the hospital's patients have COVID-19.

Multiple rooms and other areas have been converted to create more ICU capacity.

Meanwhile, the mortuary system is so overwhelmed, a California National Guard team was dispatched to the L.A. County coroner's office to help store bodies at a temporary morgue space.

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