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Grim Reality Emerges as Packed L.A. Hospitals Turn Away Ambulances

The numbers are horrifying.

In the days following the jolliest and merriest time of the year, a gruesome turn of events is unfolding.

As COVID-19 vaccines continue to be raced around the country this week, the pandemic itself rages.  Perhaps it was the false sense of security that Americans gleaned from the introduction of the inoculation, or perhaps it was the virus fatigue that sent us out to visit friends and loved ones agains the wishes of the medical community.

In either case, cases of the highly contagious virus are rising rapidly in certain parts of the country, and it’s overwhelming some local hospitals.

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At Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, the breaking point came Sunday night.

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There was not one available bed for at least 30 patients who needed intensive or intermediate levels of care, and the hospital had to shut its doors to all ambulance traffic for 12 hours. Some patients, including the very sick who required intensive oxygen, experienced wait times as long as 18 hours to get into the intensive care unit.

The front entrance of Community Hospital of Huntington Park was closed to the public Monday; the back of the building saw a steady stream of ambulances over the weekend, with one security guard saying the vehicles arrived as frequently as every half hour.

Another local hospital reported that they were operating at 140% capacity as well.

Medical experts have suggested that well over 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated before we can declare an effective “immunity” to the illness, and that such an operation could take several more months to complete.

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