The coronavirus pandemic, which extends into the ninth month, is placing a heavy burden on paramedics and paramedics in the United States, ambulance company CEOs CNBC said on Friday.
"There is a huge shortage of paramedics across the country, be it for the public fire brigade or the private ambulance companies," said Richard supplement, managing director of Acadian Companies, in an interview with Squawk on the Street. "It's an extreme problem right now."
Acadian is based in Lafayette, Louisiana and provides medical transportation services in its home state as well as Texas and Mississippi. In his nearly 50-year nursing career, Supplement said Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were the "worst" disasters they responded to.
The pandemic presents a different challenge, however. "This coronavirus has just been very difficult for us because we don't really know when it will end," he said.
"It puts an extreme burden on doctors and I find many of our doctors are retiring early because they are concerned about developing Covid disease," he said. And, he added, there are concerns among his staff about bringing the virus home to their families.
According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the 7-day average of new coronavirus cases in the country was 179,473. More than 100,000 patients with Covid-19 are currently hospitalized, most during the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
More than 2,800 new deaths have been recorded in the United States for two consecutive days, according to Hopkins data. The increased totals follow the remarks made by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, who said earlier this week, "December, January and February will be tough times."
"Indeed, I believe they are going to be the toughest in this country's public health history, largely because of the stress that will put our health system under pressure," said Redfield.
The nation's medics are experiencing it firsthand. The American Ambulance Association warned in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services received from NBC News that "the 911 emergency system in the United States is at a breaking point". She is asking for more financial support to weather the recent surge.
"All of our employees … are incredibly tired and stressed out. The extra work they have to do is both mentally and physically demanding and there is a lot of revenue," said Randy Owen, CEO of Global Medical Response Friday on "Squawk on the Street ". The Colorado-based company provides fire services and ambulance transportation in the United States and abroad.
In Louisiana in particular, the rise in coronavirus cases has once again led to problems with hospital capacity, Supplement said. The state health department said that at hospitals in the Lafayette area where its company is based, almost every bed in the intensive care unit was in use as of Wednesday.
Sometimes, he said, the closest hospitals cannot accept the patients the company is transporting. "So we're being forced to move patients up to 100 to 200 miles away to another hospital that can take them, and it still seems to be a problem," he added. "I know the vaccine will help. We just don't know when this will slow down."