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Health Care Workers And Hospitals Still Scrambling With Omicron Surge

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The combination of COVID-19 cases surging and health care workers themselves getting sick is overwhelming staff and hospitals around Los Angeles County.


"We're running out of humans. We're running out of humans to take care of other humans," Nerissa Black, a registered nurse at Henry Mayo Hospital, said.

Ambulances are being diverted and some facilities are cancelling elective surgeries to redeploy nurses and doctors in other areas.

LA County has reportedly ID'd the 20 emergency rooms hit the hardest and sent county workers to help offload ambulances.

"It's a war, right? We're fighting on the front lines. That's where it came from, but instead of physical wounds, we're having emotional wounds because we can't do the work that we're asked to do," Black said.

The governor wants $2.7 billion in new COVID spending to help those frontline workers, like Black, and get the healthcare system ready for more variants in the future. Newsom also said he wants to fund more testing for the coronavirus.

"We don't want to see these lines. We don't want to see folks have to line up, particularly on this side of the bus. Those are walk-ins versus those that have appointments. So, we continue to provide more support, to expand these sites, more personnel, more expertise and more testing locations," Newsom said.

A solution can't come soon enough for families like the Gonzalez's.

Cece Gonzalez, 8-years-old, missed the first two days of school this week because they didn't get results from her COVID-19 test, taken on Friday at Kaiser, until Wednesday. Usually, results are provided in 24 hours.

Cece's mom, Justine, said she supports baseline and weekly testing, but said it needs to be timely and to be relevant for society in general and at school.

"If you're asymptomatic and you have to, to wait five days for a result, you've already been carrying it," she said. "At this point, it feels like parents are going to have to navigate sort of a combination of testing at school and waiting for labs, but also at home testing."

How long the pressure on healthcare workers and hospitals and testing will last is unclear. Some doctors have said an end to Omicron is not yet in sight.

"I think the jury is out on where we are on that. My guess is we have several several weeks to go," said Dr. Brad Baldridge, an emergency room physician with Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance.

"I would ask the public, get vaccinated, put your mask on and just treat each other with respect and dignity. Have care, have some compassion. You call us heroes, but you treat us like zeroes and it's unfair," Black said.

County leaders said some county hospitals will get federal help with staffing in the next few weeks.

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