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Orange County COVID-19 ICU Capacity Hits Zero, Health Officials Suspend Ambulance Diversion

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) -- Orange County continued its streak of daily records for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Thursday with 1,519 patients, including 343 in ICU beds.

The county's adjusted ICU bed capacity remains at zero.

The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients. The county's unadjusted ICU bed capacity is also dropping, and it currently stands at 9.5%.

The 11-county Southern California region's adjusted percentage of available ICU beds dropped from 0.5% to zero as well.

Another 13 people died from virus-related complications, the county reported Thursday. The death toll is now at 1,731.

Also, 2,615 more COVID-19 cases were recorded. So far, there have been 113,783 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the county.

Late Wednesday, the Orange County Health Care Agency issued an order suspending the ability of hospitals that take part in the 911 system to request a diversion of ambulances to other medical centers.

Ambulance diversion allowed hospitals to request that emergency patients be taken to other medical centers. With so many hospitals in Orange County at capacity because of the spike in COVID-19 patients, suspending the diversions means hospitals must accept patients regardless of their capacity.

Dr. Carl Schultz, Orange County's EMS medical director said they were forced to make this move because overwhelming patient numbers led to almost all hospitals diverting ambulances simultaneously.

Suspending ambulance diversion "will spread this over the entire county and help to mitigate the escalating concern of finding hospital destinations for ambulances," he said. "To the best of our knowledge, this has never happened before."

Orange County's case rate per 100,000 people is now at 42.7. The positivity rate is 13.2%.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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