Hospitals in the southeast U.S. already battered by COVID-19 and bracing for Hurricane Ida now have another problem to deal with: a lack of oxygen. Premier, a company that purchases supplies for hospitals, has alerted the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services to the shortage of oxygen in the region, Bloomberg reports. Some hospitals reportedly have only 12-24 hours left of oxygen. There is “so much more demand for oxygen than there ever has been,” Premier told Bloomberg. Oxygen is used for COVID-19 victims whose breathing is severely impacted by the virus. The shortage has forced hospitals in states such as Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia to rely on their reserve tanks. “That means they have no other recourse,” said Premier executive Blair Childs.
The news comes as states such as Florida have already sounded the alarm on oxygen shortages due to COVID-19 spikes, with the issue impounded by regulations surrounding truck drivers.