Oxygen is in short supply
Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer had announced this rain and was almost waiting for it. For days, the city has been warning to use water as sparingly as possible. Because there is suddenly another problem in the US epicenter of the summer pandemic: Because the clinics need ever larger amounts of oxygen to ventilate their patients, they are suddenly in unwanted competition with the waterworks. Because these also use large amounts of oxygen for processing. However, it is unlikely that the many amusement parks will also save water.
In one of the largest hospitals in Orlando, Amanda Davis (name changed if requested) works as a case manager every day to ensure that every Covid-19 patient still gets enough oxygen. “We’ve still just barely made it,” she says. “We also provide oxygen to people who have lost their jobs because of Covid and who therefore do not have health insurance.” The deficiency can be solved technically, but production is simply lagging behind demand. The woman in her mid-thirties describes an even bigger problem as follows: “Even if at some point people may no longer need oxygen, we are still a long way from being able to discharge them from the intensive care units. The next ones who urgently need to be connected are long since coming.”
Water stop! The Orlando waterworks have to save oxygen (source: Bastian Brauns)
Even if she witnessed Corona hell up close, Davis still thinks Governor Ron DeSantis’ policies are correct. She was vaccinated herself, but did not want to force anyone to do so. The same applies to tests and masks. “That affects the individual freedom of everyone. If we violate this, then we betray what our state is based on. The right to make the right decisions for yourself,” says Davis. She relies on people getting the right information and access to vaccines, masks and tests. She is aware of the extent of false information that is circulating. “When in doubt, we all learn the hard way. When you are affected yourself, you might think differently afterwards,” she says. A colleague of hers lost her 62-year-old father just three days ago. “He was vaccinated. That doesn’t protect everyone from death either. But it reduces the risk considerably.”
Too little cold room for the corpses
Because only half of the population in Florida is fully vaccinated, millions of people are still exposed to the virus without protection. Correspondingly many die. All of the Orlando Covid dead need to be refrigerated first and later cremated. Both can hardly be achieved at the moment. The operators of the local crematoria and funeral parlors have already made public statements several times. In August, the number of deaths was as high as it was in the whole year.
Moral support from Orlando’s front gardens (Source: Bastian Brauns)
A few miles outside of the city center is the Amaryllis Cremation funeral home office. Due to the risk of Covid 19 infection, it is also closed on this day. Personal appointments are only available by telephone. The operators know how the disease can end.
One of the owners of Amaryllis Cremation answers the phone. She calls herself Sarah and seems out of breath. Unfortunately, she could not take the time for a longer conversation. “We are busy all day looking after the families of the bereaved and giving them the ashes of their loved ones.” Only this much: What can be read about the capacity problems of the crematoria in the local newspapers is true. 14 large refrigerated trucks have now been sent by the so-called “Central Florida Disaster Medical Coalition” to hospitals all over Florida, three of them also to clinics in Orlando.
Corona affects the old, the young and, lately, more and more children. While there were an average of six children with Covid-19 in Florida’s hospitals in June, it was 66 in the last week of August. Two recently died in Jacksonville in northern Florida. According to current health data from the CDC in Florida, children under the age of twelve are the group with the most infections. While they are now falling again in other age groups, the number is still increasing for them.
Governor: “I don’t want a biomedical security state”
Parents, students and teachers are therefore fighting across the state in court to at least make the use of masks mandatory. But Governor Ron DeSantis also sees this as a restriction on freedom. “I don’t want a biomedical security state,” he said recently, and immediately appealed a court decision that was unfavorable to him. Masks are therefore still not allowed to be prescribed.
In a small chapel inside the large clinic where Amanda Davis works, a book is on display next to a disinfectant bottle and a ballpoint pen. Patients and relatives can enter their prayer wishes here. On the weekend someone entered these sentences: “Lord I pray for all the people with Covid that are here in the hospital and around the world. Please keep my family and friends healthy and end the pandemic. Amen.” Every day people pray here for those suffering from Covid and wish their family and friends to stay healthy.
No tests needed when traveling
In the coming weeks it will not only be seen in Orlando whether at least these prayers have been answered. At the Florida vacation hub, the airlines no longer require Covid tests as a prerequisite for boarding a machine. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people like the Maine teacher who calls herself Morgan and her boyfriend could continue to spread the virus across the United States.
The government of the northeastern state recently released a video from the intensive care unit of a hospital . It’s supposed to shake people up, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.
There should be no such pictures from Florida’s hospitals. That is why the regional government is content with press conferences. Not only freedom is something very individual here. Many only experience the pandemic if they are actually affected themselves.