Watch CBS News

Oxygen In High Demand For Hospitalized COVID Patients And That's Starting To Create A Strain

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One thing many hospitalized COVID patients need is oxygen. It's in high demand right now and that's starting to create a strain.

Suffering from the delta variant, 17-year-old David Espino, with his mom by his side, won't be getting ready for Western High's football season anytime soon.

"I believe we should keep masks in place," he said, "just to keep things safe around school."

His soft-spoken plea, thanks to low, low oxygen levels, comes as the mask-wearing debate heats up ahead of school starting and as local pediatric intensive care units fill up …

Espino's doctor is encouraging others to wear masks so they don't wind up in a bed at Broward General next to the teen.

"Masks definitely prevent infection," said Dr. Jennifer Davis, a pediatric intensive care physician, "with the amount of positivity with delta, it's critical to control this."

The bleeps and blips of the hospital are frightening enough, but even more so when you're young and struggling to suck in enough air.

"When you have low oxygen you have air hunger… very anxiety provoking," said Dr. Davis. "Seeing lots of children having a hard time, struggling to breathe."

Raising the anxiety even more is a higher demand for oxygen coupled with a shortage of drivers able to transport it. And there are other restrictions ever since the expiration of the public health emergency in Florida, which Gov. Ron DeSantis is so far refusing to re-declare.

"There's increased stress on getting oxygen to hospitals," said Dr. Marc Napp, the chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare System, "not something I've ever seen happen in the past."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.