Los Angeles County has been so overwhelmed it is running out of oxygen, with ambulance crews instructed to use oxygen only for their worst-case patients. Crews were told not bring patients to the hospital if they have little hope of survival and to treat and declare such patients dead on the scene to preserve hospital capacity. Several Los Angeles hospitals have turned away ambulance traffic in recent days because they can’t provide the air flow needed to treat patients.
Arizona now has the nation’s highest rate of coronavirus hospitalizations. In the Atlanta area, nearly every major hospital is almost full, prompting state officials to reopen a field hospital for the third time.
The optimism that came with new vaccines and a new year is colliding with a grim reality: The United States has reached the worst stage of the pandemic to date, with the deadly results of holiday gatherings yet to arrive. Vaccine distribution is also off to a slow start, with at least 4.6 million inoculated, far short of the 20 million the Trump administration vowed to vaccinate by the end of 2020.
“We have so many crises happening simultaneously on multiple fronts,” said Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist with George Mason University. “And all signs point to things getting a whole lot worse before they get better.”