A.M. Brief: New Reporting Underscores the Gravity of SoCal’s Hospital Situation

December 17, 2020 by Brian Champlin
Doctors and nurses care for COVID-19 patients in the ICU and Emergency Department at LAC+USC Medical Center. (Photo Credit / Los Angeles County)

The hospital situation in Southern California is bad, and the coming weeks may only get grimmer. Also this morning: Beverly Hills wants to form its own health department, donations pour in for Akbar, and the Los Angeles Police Commission rules on a “cop influencer” in the Daniel Hernandez shooting. It’s Thursday. Here is your news. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

A new L.A. Times report paints a dire picture of what’s happening inside area hospitals right now. Facing staff shortages and diminished capacity, healthcare providers are making tough decisions about how to allocate limited time and resources to an overflow of patients. In some cases, doctors have triaged patients when facing multiple cardiac arrests simultaneously. In another example, a patient admitted to a Riverside hospital was put in the hallway for four days before space opened up. From a numbers perspective, yesterday was the worst day yet in Los Angeles, with the county reporting 138 new deaths and 22,422 new cases. The Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, has just 0.5% of its ICU beds available, down from 7% just days ago. [L.A. Times]


Yesterday, the Orange County Health Agency suspended hospitals’ authority to divert incoming ambulances to other medical centers. The move comes as the county continues to break COVID-19 patient admittance records, and as all hospitals face critical ICU shortages. Supervisor Doug Chaffee said it’s “not a surge, but a tsunami.” [ABC 7]

Earlier this month, Beverly Hills voted to explore forming its own Public Health Department, in part because it disagreed with the county’s order to shut down outdoor dining. If Beverly Hills follows through, it will become only the third city—joining Pasadena and Long Beach—that manages its public health outside the purview of L.A. County Public Health. In November, Pasadena briefly elected to keep outdoor dining, even after L.A. County closed it down. [Curbed]

Silver Lake’s Akbar, one of the most popular queer bars in the city, has raised almost $180,000 in donations since launching a GoFundMe eight days ago. Co-owner Peter Alexander posted the plea for help on Dec. 8, warning that the 24-year-old establishment was on the verge of shutting down forever due to the pandemic. Donations have now poured in from over 3,200 donors. [Eater LA]

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that LAPD officer and “cop influencer” Toni McBride was not justified in the last two of six shots she fired at Daniel Hernandez in April. The ruling contradicts an earlier recommendation by Chief Michel Moore that found all six shots justified. [LAist]

After frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are vaccinated, an expert panel of health officials recommends the next wave of vaccine recipients include teachers, first responders, and grocery and restaurant workers. The recommendation come from a 16-person panel put together by the California Department of Public Health’s Immunizations Branch. [NBC Los Angeles]