Orlando mayor urges residents to reduce water usage to help Covid-19 patients

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is asking residents to conserve water because liquid oxygen, used to treat the community’s water supply, is needed to treat the surge of Covid-19 patients in the community.

“Nationally, the demand for liquid oxygen is extremely high as the priority for its use is to save lives,” the mayor said in a Facebook post on Friday.

To reduce demand, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) asked customers to immediately limit watering their lawns and landscapes, take short showers, repair leaking faucets and toilets, stop washing their vehicles and performing “non-critical activities” like pressure washing, the municipal utility said in a notice.

OUC said it is “difficult to determine” how long shortages of liquid oxygen will last, “because it is tied to the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals with oxygen.”

When those hospitalizations decline, the liquid oxygen supply will likely increase, according to the utility company.

“This is another impact of the virus continuing to surge in our community,” the mayor said in his 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 reported 150,118 cases in the past week, according to data from Florida’s health department. The record was set the week before, when the state reported 151,415 new Covid-19 cases.

More than 17,000 people are hospitalized with the virus statewide, according to data from the US Department of Health & Human Services.

Hospitals are seeing a younger population of patients in intensive care units and on ventilators compared to previous surges, according to Mary Mayhew, President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.

Despite the devastation unleashed by the virus in his state, Governor Ron DeSantis has doubled down on an aggressive campaign against mask mandates including in schools, where thousands of students are returning to in-person learning.

Earlier this month, DeSantis’ office said the state board of education could withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard a July executive order from the governor that effectively prohibits mask mandates in school districts.