ORLANDO, Florida: Orlando residents have been asked to cut back on their use of water so that liquid oxygen used to treat drinking water can be diverted to help hospitalized Covid patients.
The mayor of Orlando asked residents on Friday to immediately end the watering of lawns and washing of automobiles.
Water in Orlando is treated with liquid oxygen, which is being sent to area hospitals to treat patients suffering from the Covid virus, Mayor Buddy Dyer said.
“We acknowledge that the No. 1 priority for the liquid oxygen should be for hospitals,” Dyer said at a news conference.
Orlando uses 10 trucks of liquid oxygen per week to treat water supplies, though its supplier has said it would need to reduce shipments to five to seven trucks a week to accommodate area hospitals.
Officials noted that some 40 percent of the city’s water supply is used for irrigation. So it is hoped that any strains on the water supply would be greatly reduced if residents stop watering their lawns and washing their cars.
The city has said on its website that residents will need to conserve water for at least two weeks.
“We realize this is drastic and unprecedented. If worse came to worse, we would have to look at a boil water alert,” said Linda Ferrone of the city’s water utility company, as quoted by Associated Press.
The use of liquid oxygen in the city’s water supply ensures the elimination of the slight discoloration and rotten-egg smell that is often found in Florida’s water supply.
Meanwhile, AdventHealth, one of the Orlando area’s largest health care systems, reported this week that 1,620 patients have been hospitalized with COVID-19, which is twice the number of hospitalizations compared to last winter’s high.