Orlando urges water limits amid COVID-19 surge

National

Clinicians work on intubating a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital on August 10, 2021 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 surpassed another record in the state yesterday to 2,720 with Louisiana as one of the nation’s epicenters while the spread of the Delta variant continues. More than ninety percent of Louisiana’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Lake Charles Memorial currently holds 52 COVID-19 patients, 25 of whom are in the ICU. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. — The mayor of Orlando asked residents on Friday to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars for a least a week, saying water usage needed to be cut back because of the recent surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The Orlando Utility Commission treats the city’s water with liquid oxygen and supplies that ordinarily go toward water treatment have been diverted to hospitals for patients suffering from the virus, Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

The city-owned utility typically goes through 10 trucks of liquid oxygen a week but its supplier recently said that it would be cut back to five to seven trucks a week to accommodate hospitals, said Linda Ferrone, the utility commission’s chief customer and marketing officer.

Ferrone said the move is unprecedented and that if things got worse the city might have to issue a boil water alert.

About 40% of the utility commission’s potable water is used for irrigation so any strains on the water supply will be greatly reduced if residents stop watering their lawns, washing their cars or using pressure washers, she said.

Since the 1990s, the utility has used liquid oxygen to remove the slight discoloration and rotten-egg smell that is found naturally in Florida’s water supply.

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