State health leaders are describing a bleak state of affairs at California hospitals dealing with a surge of COVID-19 patients as the year comes to a close.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said today that health facilities statewide have seen a 35.1% increase in ICU admissions over the last two weeks, with COVID-19 hospitalizations having increased at a similar rate — 36.5%.
As a result of the surge, regional stay-at-home orders have been extended for the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions.
“We essentially are projecting that the ICU capacity is not improving in Southern California and San Joaquin Valley and that demand will continue to exceed capacity,” said Dr. Ghaly at a press briefing Tuesday.
The extended stay-at-home orders prohibit private gatherings, close outdoor dining, and restrict retailers to only 20% capacity. Faith groups are allowed to worship outdoors.
Ghaly says while hospitals in the northern part of the state may still have the ability to treat COVID-19 patients, as well as routine trauma and heart conditions, hospitals in the southern part of the state are much more spread thin.
“Hospitals ... are running out of staff, having to use rooms that they don’t traditionally do, longer than normal, much longer than normal wait times in emergency departments, etc,” Ghaly said.
The U.S. Department of Defense sent two medical teams to San Joaquin County hospitals to help them increase ICU capacity. They arrived Tuesday.
Health officials say the order will be reassessed regularly and be lifted depending on ICU bed availability. The Greater Sacramento area will likely find out next week if its stay-at-home order will be lifted while a decision on the order for the Bay Area is likely to come in two weeks.
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