PATIENTS in hard-hit Los Angeles County are being treated in hospital gift shops or outside amid a record surge in Covid cases.

The desperate measures were introduced as it emerged the US was struggling to cope with the largest ever number of coronavirus hospital admissions, with a record number of virus deaths also recorded.

Oxygen supply issues led to at least five hospitals in Los Angeles County to declare an "internal disaster".

They have been turning ambulances away and shifting patients to gift shops, meeting rooms and tents outside.

Meanwhile, at least one LA funeral home requested bigger freezer trucks to store bodies.

Dr Mark Ghaly, Los Angeles County, health services director, described the situation as "truly dire", the Los Angeles Times reports.

He said: "All hospitals are experiencing this strain, but it’s especially more pronounced and more serious for some of the smaller hospitals.

"Many hospitals have reached a crisis point and are having to make many tough decisions about patient care."

Covid patients in LA County’s ICUs have broken records for 16 consecutive days, rising to 1,449 on Sunday, which was the most recent data available. 

As of Monday morning, there were 54 available ICU beds, and half were for child patients.

Two-thirds of staffed ICU beds are filled with severe Covid cases.

Most LA County hospitals are now being forced to divert ambulances.

Soon, there won’t be any places for these ambulances to go

But Dr Ghaly said: "Soon, there won’t be any places for these ambulances to go.

"If every hospital is on diversion, then no hospital is on diversion."

The US has reported a record number of Covid-19 deaths, with more than 3,700 in a single day as hospitalizations reached a pandemic high of 124,000 yesterday.

Deaths nearly doubled from Monday with 3,725 deaths reported, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

This brings the US total of deaths to 338,820.

According to The Covid Tracking Project, the US recorded an extra 247,000 cases.

This was the second highest recorded since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total infections to 19.3million. 

Meanwhile, Colorado health officials were dealing with the discovery of a mutant strain which was first detected by British scientists.

Governor Jared Polis said: "Today we discovered Colorado's first case of the Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK. 

"The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all Covid-19 indicators, very closely."

The frightening news comes as at least 335,830 people have died from the coronavirus across the United States.

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