SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — While counties in the Bay Area are generally doing much better than the rest of the state as far as rising COVID-19 cases during the surge, hospital officials are still taking steps in preparation.
Hospitals in Northern California aren’t close to crisis levels where there is a shortage of ICU beds, but since no one really knows how long the current case surge will last, health officials are bracing for the worst.
Hospitalizations spiked across California by more than 81 percent over the last 14 days.
“I’m definitely concerned. My parents are in the high-risk category, so I’d be terrified and scared if they got sick,” said San Francisco resident Solveig Barnes.
“Hospital systems are stretched. I talk to many hospital leaders everyday to hear how things are going on the ground,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly during his Tuesday update on the state’s response to the pandemic.
But the numbers aren’t as bad in the Bay Area compared to counties like Los Angeles, where even outdoor dining has been shut down.
For example, In Santa Clara County, there are 53 COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit, occupying about 10 percent of the county’s ICU beds.
Across California, more than 1,514 COVID patients are hospitalized in ICUs, accounting for more than 41 percent of ICU COVID beds.
But the total number of beds designated for COVID patients can change.
“It sounds more alarming than it is. I’m not saying we don’t have a problem, but when we have this denominator, then the numbers look bigger and more impressive compared to what the actual crisis is,” said Dr. John Ioannidis, a Stanford School of Medicine Professor of Epidemiology.
“We do know we can bring on additional beds. Not infinitely so, but many more than we have today because of our effort to plan around surge. We have spaces identified with certain facilities that can be brought on,” said Ghaly.
“Right now the health system is doing very well, but there may be some hospitals that are more pressed than others,” said Ioannidis.
Towards the end of July during the summer coronavirus surge, there were more than 2,200 COVID patients in the ICU in California, still less than the current number of ICU COVID patients across the state.