SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Back in March, the first wave of coronavirus cases had states and counties worried about hospital capacity – just having enough beds for people. Now health officials are confronting what’s being called a third wave of cases, and this time doctors are much more confident.
“We are starting to see a little bit of an uptick in our county in a little bit in our hospital,” said Dr. Sam Shen of Stanford University.
Shen says San Mateo County is like much of the Bay Area: cases are up, but not as much as the rest of the state. He also says doctors have come a long way since the first wave.
“Having the benefit of experience over the last many months allows us to be better prepared and know how to care for patients,” said Chen.
“I think we have learned a lot in the early days in late February and early March to now,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of UCSF. “There have been advances not only in types of drugs that we have available and methodologies, but in the sequencing of drugs.”
Chin-Hong also credits new treatments with keeping more people out of intensive care, and a better understanding of the diseases for shortened and less severe hospital stays.
“We’ve learned some more science about how long people are infected for, when they can go home,” said Chin-Hong. “That has cut down on hospitalization rates.”
So this new wave of cases may not stress our hospitals like it might have previously.
“I like that we’ve had a lot of experience preparing, not just for the first or the second,” Chen explained. “We continue to be vigilant and in my opinion well prepared for a potential third wave.”
No matter how prepared, there are limits to what any hospital can do.
“You know, we do have weapons to fight disease when it does occur,” said Chin-Hong. “But even the best weapons fall flat when you have one million people coming in and wanting to use the hospital facilities.”