Covid Patient Beats Old Man to Death with an Oxygen Tank for Praying

A coronavirus patient is accused of beating his 82-year-old hospital roommate to death with an oxygen tank in Lancaster, Calif., last week because he was upset with his Catholic prayers, according to authorities.

The victim shared a two-person room at Antelope Valley Hospital with the suspect, 37-year-old Jesse Martinez. They were both undergoing treatment for COVID-19, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The two did not know each other, but the elderly victim’s praying upset Martinez on the morning of Dec. 17, authorities said. The suspect is accused of grabbing an oxygen tank and pummeling the victim.

The sheriff’s department said the investigation was ongoing and that it could not comment further.

Hospital workers detained Martinez at the scene until law enforcement arrived, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 82-year-old was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m. the next day. Authorities did not immediately release his name.

Hospitals are facing staff shortages and the state has put out an appeal for extra 3,000 medical workers from as far afield as Australia and Taiwan.

On Monday California's health secretary Dr Mark Ghaly said entire areas may run out of room even in their makeshift additional treatment centres "by the end of the month and early in January".

California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a stay-at-home order and many non-essential businesses are closed.

On Wednesday the US reported 228,131 new cases of Covid-19 and 3,359 new deaths.

Martinez faces murder charges, with hate crime and elder abuse enhancements, according to investigators.

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