CALIFORNIA: The Australia-originated flu has caused several hospitals in the US to set up tents to accommodate the influx of flu patients, while others had to turn away sick people, according to an online Daily Mail article on Wednesday (Jan 17).
California has been hit the hardest, with 40 deaths reported in flu patients under 65. Comparatively, there were only nine reported deaths this time last year.
Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose has had to make room in its storage area to accommodate more patients. Palomar Health Center in Escondido are treating patients in the hallways and in a tent.
“'We were the first in San Diego County to set up the tent and we had it for eight days,” said Michelle Gunnett, director of emergency services at Palomar Health Center. If the flu progresses, she said the tent may be needed again to take the pressure off the emergency room.
Loma Linda University Medical Center has also been treating patients in tents. Its executive director of emergency services said the tents were expected to be up for a few days but had been up for three weeks to accommodate the additional 60 patients each day.
Last week, the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica turned away patients when more than 200 people came in with flu-like symptoms.
California is one of the 49 states in the US facing overcrowded and understaffed facilities. In Minnesota and Texas, young children were turned away because, according to the Daily Mail, they were the least likely to show flu symptoms.
At Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Gatorade was used instead of IV drips due to a shortage; Hurricane Maria had wrecked a major facility that produces IV bags in Puerto Rico last September.
A state of public health emergency has been declared in Alabama, where half of the hospitals are operating at 90 per cent capacity; the rest are either full or overloaded.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has killed at least 20 children and more than 85 adults nationwide. It warned that more strains of the H3N2 virus, which is responsible for the flu outbreak, will emerge in the next two months.