The coronavirus continues to break dismal records in California, as the rise of the fast-spreading virus fills hospital beds almost to capacity.
California has recorded more than 1.4 million cases and about 20,500 deaths as of Friday morning, and the numbers are expected to continue to rise. Hospitalizations in the state have reached record levels. Admissions to intensive care units have increased by approximately 70% in just two weeks, leaving less than 10% of the beds available across the state.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said this week that to reduce pressure on hospitals, the state was working with regional leaders to determine where elective surgeries could be canceled to make room for emergency patients. That includes operations like heart valve replacements, tumor removals, and preventive services like colonoscopies. Those procedures are a source of revenue for hospitals, many of which have lost substantial sums when elective procedures were postponed for weeks in California last April.
“Canceling elective procedures really is an option of last resort,” Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president of the California Hospital Association, said Thursday. “However, amid this current increase, which is the largest to date, some hospitals may not have a choice.” The biggest challenge currently facing hospitals is not bed capacity, but shortages of staff, personal protective equipment and testing supplies, Emerson-Shea added.
Public health officials blame the increase on people who ignore safety rules for wearing masks and social distancing, except with people in their own homes. They have expressed fear that Covid 19 infection and hospitalization rates will continue to rise as people ignore orders to stay home to meet up for the holidays.
But the restrictions, the harshest since a spring shutdown, have been challenged by some entrepreneurs who say they will ruin them after nearly a year of seeing their clientele avoid public places due to Covid-19 fears again. restrictions.
Residents of Orange County, the third largest county in the state, are among the most critical of Covid-induced business closings and mask-wearing mandates, and its Southern California region has now been one of the hardest hit by the virus.
Ambulances have been waiting for hours to unload patients because Orange County emergency rooms are so crowded, said Dr. Carl Schultz of the county health care agency. In a letter to hospitals, ambulance companies and paramedic providers, Schultz issued a dire warning Wednesday that the county’s critical care system “may collapse unless emergency directives are implemented” immediately.
“The health system in Orange County is now in crisis as a result of an overwhelming increase in the number of patients infected with Covid,” said Schultz, director of emergency medical services for the county of more than 3 million people. In addition to canceling non-emergency surgeries, he urged hospitals to start expanding their capacity.
California’s rural Central Valley has also been hit hard. Six counties there only had 31 ICU beds left as of Friday morning to serve more than 2 million people living in the area, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health. The San Joaquin Valley region, which includes those six counties and six others, had the least space available in the state, with just 1.9% ICU capacity.
Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest with 10 million residents, reported that some 3,300 people were hospitalized with the virus, and at least 23% of them were in intensive care. The county broke its daily record for new coronavirus cases, with 12,819 reported Thursday.
“In the past two days alone, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has risen by more than 300. Like a speeding car approaching a cliff, if we don’t change course quickly, we run the risk of suffering consequences. catastrophic, ”said Dr. Paul Simon, chief scientist for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The county is part of the vast Southern California region that, along with the San Joaquin Valley, contains more than 60% of the state’s 40 million residents.
Last week, the two regions were ordered to follow the strictest anti-Covid-19 rules under a new state stay-at-home order that aims to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by restricting infectious contacts.
Thirteen other counties in Northern California were subjected to restrictions Thursday, including closing open-air restaurants along with nail and nail salons and reducing customer capacity at retail stores. More than 85% of ICU beds in the Greater Sacramento region are full, the state’s public health department announced Wednesday. The restrictions will last at least until January 1.
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