According to testimonies from frontline medical staff, the US health care system is having a hard time dealing with COVID-19. The situation is particularly difficult in California, where the current crisis is already being talked about in terms of a natural disaster and hospitals are collapsing under the strain.
Five million Americans have been vaccinated so far, but new cases are springing up far faster than vaccines can be doled out. Christmas crowds and travel have only exacerbated the latest wave. This has placed an enormous burden on hospitals to the point where California hospitals are running out of beds.
Most of the workload falls to ambulance crews, some of whom have been instructed not to transport patients in too serious a condition so as not to further burden medical staff. A California doctor commented, "We're telling people not to call emergency services unless there's no choice."
Patients who do arrive at hospitals are forced to wait in ambulances for hours, which creates logjams in the hospital's system and keeps doctors too occupied to deal with other situations. Channel 12 News quoted Gaina Choclave, a nurse at one of the hospitals in Los Angeles, as commenting, "Patients are dying like flies. We're at full capacity, with no resources or staff to spare. every request for assistance has gone unanswered."