University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles County, chief medical officer Dr. Brad Spellberg said in an interview, "If you are in a car accident, you're going to want us to save your life. If you have a stroke or a heart attack, you're going to need an ICU bed and with trained ICU nurses and physicians who are not caring for 20 other patients at the same time."
That means record-high Covid-19 hospitalizations could have an overwhelming effect even if you don't have it. Months ago, across the US, some hospitals started running out of health care workers. And fueling new waves of Covid-19 hospitalizations are holiday gatherings.
Dr. Spellberg said, "We are seeing people who have gathered for Thanksgiving, or who have gathered for other reasons (and) didn't truly understand, even to this point, what was at stake."
According to the Covid Tracking Project, on Thursday, more than any other day of the pandemic, 125,379 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 nationwide. On Friday as well, the 125,000 patients topped, but Saturday slightly dipped to 123,639. For 32 straight days, the US has remained above 100,000 hospitalizations due to Covid-19.
Which led Dr. Spellberg to say, "This is about the total collapse of the health care system if we have another spike, and we, in the hospital, cannot stop that. We can only react to it. It is the public that has the power to put a stop to the spread of this virus by simply obeying the public health guidance that has been put out."
In the hospital, the doctor's office and break rooms turn into patient rooms.
Hospitals were treating Covid-19 patients in "unprecedented" numbers, according to California emergency officers. They said, "the internal oxygen delivery systems built into many older hospitals are being overtaxed by the volume of oxygen flow required to treat patients with respiratory issues that arise from Covid-19."
The US Army Corps of Engineers design and construction experts have been deployed to the Los Angeles area to "evaluate at about a half dozen hospitals and where necessary upgrade oxygen delivery systems."
Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles District commander Col. Julie Batten said, "The hospitals we have toured already have been doing an amazing job."
White Memorial Medical Center's medical director of emergency services, Dr. Stephen Liu, explained that an average patient receives anywhere between two to six liters of oxygen a minute. But Covid-19 patients require "a ton of oxygen" or up to 40 liters a minute, and "the infrastructures are not ready to support it."
"But we're definitely to the point where we need even more help, though the hospital has done what it can to augment the oxygen supply," Dr. Liu said.
Dr. Balten said, "We entered Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, and they converted their administrative offices into treatment areas for Covid-19 patients, but the volume of patients has been overwhelming."
She added, "on one entire floor, they also treated Covid-19 patients in a revamped break room."
In the recent report, more than 10,000 families mourned the loss of a loved one to Covid-19, as the entire world rang in the new year. A problematic start to the new year for Americans.