The critical shortage of oxygen affects COVID-19 patients who are unable to breathe as their inflamed lungs are weakened. Some patients are killed for having trouble getting the amount of oxygen they needed.

It's gotten so bad that officials from Los Angeles County are warning paramedics to keep it secured. Some hospitals have to postpone the release of patients because they don't have enough oxygen to take them home.

"Everybody is so worried about what's going to happen in the next week or so," expresses Cathy Chidester, the director of the L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

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It's not about only an oxygen shortage, it includes county and hospital officials say. There is a shortage of canisters that patients use to return home, and because of the large quantities of oxygen needed to be transported around the hospital, outdated hospital pipes are breaking down.

The delivery of oxygen at aged hospitals has two issues. First thing is, there are so many patients who require a high oxygen level that the device is unable to sustain the adequate pressure required in the tubes. The second thing is that the flow through the pipes is so strong that they freeze, "and obviously, if it freezes, then you can't have good oxygen flow," said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of health services in L.A. County.

Some hospitals are forced to switch patients to lower floors because, without the pressure to drive them up to higher floors, it is safer to provide oxygen there, Ghaly said.

Oxygen, which accounts for 21 percent of the air on Earth, is not running short. But Covid's lungs are weakened, and the crush of patients in hot spots like Los Angeles, the Navajo Nation, El Paso, Texas, and last spring in New York required high concentrations. The system for supplying gas to hospitals and their patients has been strained.

The supply of both the portable cylinders that carry oxygen and the concentrators that pull oxygen from the air is also under pressure. And in some situations, manufacturers providing oxygen failed to get enough of the gas to hospitals. Even the tubing used to administer oxygen, nasal cannulas, is now running short.

"It has been nuts, absolutely nuts,"  Esteban Trejo said, the general manager of Syoxsa, an industrial and medical gas distributor based in El Paso. He provides oxygen to several temporary hospitals set up specifically to treat people with covid.

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However, hospitals unable to provide adequate oxygen in the Los Angeles area for the sickest coronavirus patients started to receive assistance on Saturday when the U.S. In order to upgrade their oxygen delivery systems, Army Corps of Engineers crews arrived.

The alliance comes as the six aging hospitals are struggling to sustain oxygen pressure while treating an unprecedented number of respiratory patients. In addition to the lack of oxygen, it was difficult for hospitals to keep up with the demand for oxygen tanks to carry discharged patients home.

Considering that there are some patients with COVID-19 that can need 10 times more oxygen than a normal patient.

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