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Hospital workers and other healthcare employees have been getting infected with the coronavirus in rising numbers as cases skyrocket in Los Angeles County, compounding staff shortages at medical centers amid the latest wave of the pandemic.

“We have a very sophisticated healthcare system, but it is made up of people,” said Dr. Kimberly Shriner, medical director of infection prevention and control at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. “And right now, people are getting COVID.”

Roughly 100 front-line workers at the Pasadena hospital are now out because of COVID-19, Shriner said. As cases soar, Huntington has been seeing wait times exceeding five hours at its emergency room. On Tuesday, it started putting elective surgeries on hold.

Staffing shortfalls have pervaded the healthcare system, not just at hospitals and clinics but also “all of the other parts of the healthcare system that need to work in a tightly connected puzzle,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the L.A. County Department of Health Services.

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