COVID Patient Beat Hospital Roommate To Death With Oxygen Tank, Police Say

A coronavirus patient has been charged after he allegedly beat his elderly hospital roommate to death with an oxygen tank.

The incident took place at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, a city in Los Angeles County, California last week, KABC reported.

Sheriff's deputies told the station that a man in the hospital's COVID-19 unit brutally beat his roommate, an 82-year-old man, with the oxygen tank on the morning of December 17. The victim of the attack died the next day.

The two men did not know each other, according to the station, and investigators are working to determine the motive for the attack.

The suspect was arrested and charged with murder with an enhancement due to the victim's age, KABC reported. Neither the victim nor the suspect has yet been identified.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Antelope Valley Hospital have been contacted for additional comment.

News of the grim incident comes as California's health care system faces being overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in the state.

California is on the cusp of 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, just weeks after crossing the 1 million mark, following a massive spike in infections over the past month.

The state has more than 1,925,000 confirmed cases and almost 23,000 deaths, with around 33,700 new cases reported Tuesday.

More than 600 COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals on Monday, bringing the total number of people hospitalized in California to almost 19,000 as of Tuesday.

In his coronavirus press briefing on Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom—who is in quarantine again after being exposed to an infected staffer—said officials were anticipating a surge in hospitalizations.

He also said stay-home orders for Southern California will likely need to be extended.

But Newsom has said there was some good news for Californians after the Moderna vaccine was approved for distribution in the state.

"While California is in some of the darkest days of our COVID-19 surge, with too many families grieving lost loved ones, there is light as more vaccines are approved for distribution," Newsom said in a statement on Sunday after the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed its review of the vaccine.

He added: "Until vaccines are available more widely across the state, it's critical that all Californians do their part to stop the surge by staying at home and wearing a mask when leaving home for essential work and needs."

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on December 1, 2020. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images