Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer is urging residents to cut way back on water, which is now needed for the stream of Covid patients flooding the city's hospitals. "The demand for liquid oxygen is extremely high, as the priority is to use it to save lives and treat critically ill patients…" he announced today (video below).
With 1,620 Covid patients lying in Orlando's hospitals this week — twice as many patients as there were during last winter's Covid peak — and the ICU completely full in one of Orlando's largest health systems, he's asking that people immediately stop watering lawns and washing cars for at least the next seven days.
"…So what does that mean to us here in Orlando? It means that there could be impacts to our water quality if we don't immediately reduce the amount of water we need to treat, knowing we could be facing issues with this limited supply," Dyer said.
Orlando epidemiologist Dr. Vincent Hsu agrees. "This is unfortunately a crisis of unprecedented proportions."
From The News & Observer:
The city-owned utility typically goes through 10 trucks of liquid oxygen a week but its supplier recently said that it would be cut back to five to seven trucks a week to accommodate hospitals, said Linda Ferrone, OUC's chief customer and marketing officer.
About 40% of the utility commission's potable water is used for irrigation so any strains on the water supply will be greatly reduced if residents stop watering their lawns, washing their cars or using pressure washers, she said.
"We realize this is drastic and unprecedented," Ferrone said. "If worse came to worse, we would have to look at a boil water alert."
Since the 1990s, the utility has used liquid oxygen to remove the slight discoloration and rotten-egg smell that is found naturally in Florida's water supply.