Orlando Urges Residents To Conserve Water Amid Liquid Oxygen Shortage

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Orlando Urges Residents To Conserve Water Amid Liquid Oxygen Shortage

Topline

Orlando, Florida, officials urged residents on Friday to shorten their showers and stop watering their cars due to the city running short on the liquid oxygen it uses to purify its water system— because hospitals in the region are using a massive supply of it to treat Covid-19 patients.

Key Facts

Residents in Orlando and other communities in Orange County, Florida (population: 1.1 million) have been asked to “immediately” curb their water usage to try to preserve the area’s supply of liquid oxygen.

The Orlando Utilities Commission reported it’s only receiving about half of its normal supply, since liquid oxygen has been prioritized to treat the skyrocketing number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in the region.

A health official with AdventHealth, the largest health care provider in central Florida, said Thursday hospitals are dealing with “a crisis of unprecedented proportions,” having over two times the amount of Covid patients seen during the winter surge.

A common treatment for severe Covid cases is supplemental oxygen, with some medical facilities relying on supplies of oxygen in its liquid form since it can be stored in larger volumes and is more easy to transport.

Orlando chooses to purify its water with liquid oxygen since it removes hydrogen sulfide, a gas that can give water a strong scent of rotten eggs.

What To Watch For

The Orlando Utilities Commission wants to significantly reduce the amount of water it pumps daily, from 90 million gallons per day to no more than 50 million gallons a day. But if water usage is not reduced and liquid oxygen remains in short supply, the water supply may be impacted, possibly requiring the need for a boil water advisory to be put into effect for an indefinite amount of time.

Key Background

Florida is producing the most Covid cases of any state in the U.S. by far, adding nearly 24,000 new cases per day, according to a New York Times tracker, with central Florida being one of the hardest-hit areas of the state. AdventHealth epidemiologist Dr. Vincent Hsu said Thursday that ICUs in the region’s hospitals are being overwhelmed, leading to intensive care being done outside of designated ICU beds. Hospitals are also starting to use rooms typically used for brief medical procedures to house patients since regular rooms are full, Hsu said. Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all at record levels in Florida.

Tangent

During the spring, new case counts in India spiked to around 400,000 a day after the emergence of the delta variant. Hospitals filled up in major cities like Delhi, leading to dire oxygen shortages as doctors raced to treat the rapidly growing number of patients. The U.S. responded by sending thousands of oxygen tanks to the country as part of a $100 million aid package.

Big Number

40%. That’s about how much of the Orlando-area’s water supply goes to lawn and landscaping irrigation, according to the Orlando Utilities Commission, even though Orlando’s summer rainfall alone is typically more than enough to water lawns.

Further Reading

Orlando mayor asks residents to start conserving water immediately due to liquid oxygen shortage (WESH-TV)

U.S. Promises To Send Crucial Oxygen Supplies To Covid-Ravaged India (Forbes)

‘A crisis’: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Central Florida causing growing strain on health care systems (WESH-TV)

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