LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Los Angeles County said Wednesday that the most populous U.S. county has crossed its own grim threshold of 10,000 deaths from COVID-19.
The county reported 274 more coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, bringing the death toll since the outbreak of the pandemic to 10,056, according to the latest data released by the county's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer during an online briefing conference.
Meanwhile, the county reported 10,392 more cases, much lower than Tuesday's 12,979. Ferrer attributed the decline to the closure of testing sites were closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas.
There were 7,415 local coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals on Wednesday, 20 percent of whom were in intensive care and 18 percent were on ventilators.
Healthcare officials warned that the current surge in infections and hospitalizations was overwhelming the county's hospitals and increasing deaths.
"Some patients are waiting in ambulances because there is no space," said Los Angeles County's Supervisor Hilda Solis before the briefing conference, stressing "our medical examiner is receiving overflow of bodies from hospitals that are unable to store them."
"There's many situations in which as many as 10 ambulances are waiting to offload patients, and those patients are being cared for and treated in the ambulances as if it's part of the emergency room bay," the county's Director of Health and Human Services Christina Ghaly revealed, adding hospitals had to use places like conference rooms or gift shops to provide patient care.
To help address the shortage of hospital resources, Los Angeles County's Supervisor Janice Hahn also wrote a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, asking for coordination with the federal authority to dispatch the USNS Mercy hospital ship to the Port of Los Angeles again.
The 1,000-bed USNS Mercy arrived at the Port of Los Angeles on March 27 to provide relief for hospitals in Southern California that were preparing for an anticipated surge of coronavirus patients in April.
The ship was not brought in to treat COVID-19 cases but to handle other patients and free up hospital beds for virus treatment, and it only treated fewer than 100 people before it departed on May 15 for its home port in San Diego.
Ghaly has said USNS Mercy had so many restrictions that it couldn't take many patients. She noted at Wednesday's conference that the situation in the County had become so desperate that any new resources would be welcome. Enditem