Los Angeles County's Emergency Medical Services said Monday that to "conserve oxygen" during the COVID-19 crisis, ambulatory services should administer supplemental oxygen only to patients with especially low oxygen levels.
Since November 1, the county recorded a 905% increase in its weekly average of positive cases.
Health officials say that number is "likely to go up."
Los Angeles County's Emergency Medical Services said Monday that to "conserve oxygen" during the COVID-19 crisis, ambulatory services should administer supplemental oxygen only to patients with oxygen levels below 90%.
The EMS agency issued the guidance in a memo, adding that a level of 90% was sufficient for most patients to maintain normal bodily functions.
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Though some patients who have lung disease or sleep apnea can have a normal reading of about 90%, the Minnesota Department of Health's website says healthcare providers should be notified if the reading is below 95%.
Los Angeles County, which serves roughly 10 million residents, has been hit with a wave of coronavirus cases during the holiday season. More than 9,140 new cases were reported Monday, for a total of 827,498. Seventy-seven new deaths were also recorded, for a total of 10,850.
The county has recorded a 905% increase in its weekly average of positive cases since November 1. Health officials say that number is "likely to go up."
"The steepness of this line is frightening in its implications for our healthcare system, our healthcare workers, and all the people we care about," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said during a press conference.
"This is likely to be the worst month of the pandemic," the county added in a statement Monday. "The surge from the holiday gatherings is here, and cases will increase due to parties and travelers returning to LA County."
County health officials characterized the lack of intensive-care-unit beds and other shortages as a "crisis" but added that hospitals had yet to make a formal declaration requiring them to ration equipment and triage patients.
Such declarations would change the standard of care to focus on doing "the most good for the most number of patients," rather than putting the most possible effort into any given patient, officials said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized the deployment of the US Army Corps of Engineers to six hospitals in the county on Friday to assist with upgrading oxygen-delivery systems.
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