Increase in Virus Cases in California Hits Hospitals and Schools at Alarming Rate

California is having a difficult time staffing its hospitals and schools as an unexpected increase in coronavirus infections sweeps across the state.

Some 40% of hospitals are expecting to face critical staff shortages and some are reporting as much as one quarter of their staff out for virus-related reasons, said Kiyomi Burchill of the California Hospital Association.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department is using their fire trucks to transport patients to the hospitals as 450 firefighters are absent after testing positive.

“The rapid spread of omicron has wiped out our workforce,” McCormick Ambulance, a private company that contracts with the county, said in a statement.

The virus is sidelining school personnel as well, even as 6 million K-12 students are returning to classrooms.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials, meanwhile, are facing criticism for failing to deliver on a promise to provide rapid, at-home tests to all California students and school staff before classrooms reopened after the winter break.

Millions of test kits were sent to families but millions more were not, and there have been long lines this week at Los Angeles County testing sites.

California schools chief Tony Thurmond on Wednesday called the delay “disappointing.”

– Ella Breedlove