SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Friday marked a difficult milestone in Santa Clara County as the health department recorded the largest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day at 407. Health officials say that, if the trend continues at this rate, hospitals across Santa Clara County will be at capacity within three weeks.
“Cancel your holiday plans. Don’t travel,” said Santa Clara County’s Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. She did not mince words on Friday when talking about the consequences of people getting together for Thanksgiving.
“The choices that each of us make in the next two weeks may mean the difference between enough hospital capacity and not enough,” Dr. Cody said.
In the past week, hospitalizations due to coronavirus have increased by 50 percent in Santa Clara County.
That’s why the health department is working with medical centers across the county to get ready for another possible surge of COVID-19 patients.
“They are asking us to get ready in case we need to open up new COVID floors,” said Sarah Sherwood, the spokesperson for Regional Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital. “They’re asking us to get tents ready if we need them.”
Both facilities are in San Jose and are working with county health leaders to prepare for another flood of virus patients.
In addition to ensuring there are enough hospital beds for COVID patients and PPE for health care workers, the medical centers are also preparing to ramp up staffing. It was a hard lesson learned by many hospitals across the nation during the initial COVID surge. Some doctors and nurses were forced out of work and into quarantine after coronavirus exposures, while others worked marathon shifts for weeks or months at a time.
“It’s the staff burnout that we continue to be concerned about and we are ready to bring in new staff when new staff is needed,” Sherwood said. She says their hospital system learned a lot about how to treat COVID patients back in April when cases were spiking. Regional had more COVID patients at that point than any other hospital in the Bay Area.
“We are ready for as many patients as we need to take care of and we have some experience now in taking care of them,” Sherwood added.
So far, Regional Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital have not started setting up overflow tents in the parking lot. Good Samaritan did have an overflow tent set up during the initial COVID surge in April. Sherwood says the tents and staff are ready if needed.