COVID cases are so high in Orlando, Florida, that residents are being asked to cut back on water usage to save oxygen supplies for patients.
The city’s Utilities Commission asked residents Saturday to stop watering their lawns, citing a “shortage of liquid oxygen linked to the surge of COVID-19 inpatient treatments.” If residents didn’t do their part to reduce water consumption, the commission warned, “water quality may be impacted.”
Linda Ferrone, the commission’s chief customer and marketing officer, said the commission may be forced to issue a boil water notice if conditions do not improve.
“This is another impact of the virus continuing to surge in our community,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a Facebook post. “And it’s another result of what happens when residents do not get the vaccine and become critically ill, needing medical support and treatment.”
Florida recently surpassed 3 million total COVID cases, a record held by two other U.S. states and only 15 other countries. This week, the state reported more than 150,000 new COVID cases for the second week in a row.
The surge in COVID cases, as well as an increase in the use of supplemental oxygen to treat the disease, has resulted in a shortage of the liquid oxygen the OUC generally uses to purify its water. The commission’s website says it needs to conserve up to half of the 90 million gallons of water it usually pumps in a day.
The OUC is asking its 400,000 customers to limit water consumption for at least two weeks. In addition to not watering their lawns, the commission suggests residents reduce use of pressure washers, take shorter showers, and limit washing their cars. The city has already halted irrigation at its parks and ballfields.
Orlando Health, a major chain of hospitals in the area, said in a statement that it would also be reducing its water consumption in the coming weeks. “Orlando Health continues to maintain an adequate supply of liquid oxygen across our network of hospitals and does not anticipate the increased demand having any impact on patient care,” the company said.