Experts: U.S. healthcare system collapsing due to COVID-19 spike
A doctor treats a patient at an ICU in a hospital in California, U.S., January 3, 2021. /CFP

A doctor treats a patient at an ICU in a hospital in California, U.S., January 3, 2021. /CFP

Surging hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have put the U.S. healthcare system in real crisis as holiday gatherings in late December fuel a new wave of infections, Cable News Network (CNN) quoted medical experts as saying.

"This is about total collapse of the healthcare system if we have another spike," Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, told CNN.

"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," he said.

For the past 34 days, the U.S. has been witnessing over 100,000 people getting hospitalized due to COVID-19 on a daily basis, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Some hospitals have even turned offices and break rooms into patient rooms to treat recorded number of COVID-19 patients. For example, Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City converted its administrative offices into treatment areas for COVID-19 patients. 

Medical experts are also worried about the internal oxygen delivery systems in many older hospitals being overtaxed by the volume of oxygen flow required to treat patients with respiratory issues that arise from COVID-19. 

Dr. Stephen Liu, medical director of emergency services at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, explained to CNN that average patients receive somewhere between 2-6 liters of oxygen a minute, while COVID-19 patients take up to 40 liters a minute. "The infrastructure's just not there to support it."

"We're definitely to the point where we need even more help," Liu told CNN.

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