ICU availability in Southern California at 0%, and it's going to get worse, officials warn

Once ICU beds are full, hospitals go into surge mode, which can accommodate 20% over its usual capacity. Officials have been also training medical person from other parts of hospitals to allow them to work in ICUs and seeking nurses from outside the United States.

But new projections from Los Angeles County suggest that hospital ICU could blow past even those contingencies in the coming weeks.

There were nearly 1,000 people with COVID-19 in L.A. County’s intensive care units this week. Forecasts say that by early January, there could be between 1,600 to 3,600 COVID-19 patients in need of ICU beds if virus transmission trends remain the same.

There are only 2,500 licensed ICU beds in L.A. County.

“There are simply not enough trained staff to care for the volume of patients that are projected to come and need care,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services, said. “Our hospitals are under siege, and our model shows no end in sight.”