SAN MATEO COUNTY (KPIX) — A new COVID-19 shutdown order will go into effect in five Bay Area counties next week to stem the rising tide of cases, but four counties, including San Mateo, will remain open, for now. South Bay health officials say they are prepared for a surge.
Only 14 percent of intensive care unit capacity remain in all of Santa Clara County as of Friday evening. On Thursday, 67 COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals, setting a record. Hospitals there canceling surgeries to care for the influx of patients.READ MORE: Armed Bike Thieves Targeting Cyclists in the East Bay Hills
“It takes at least 3 weeks for our actions to impact our trend in hospitalizations. It’s a very long lead time,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody. “In our county, we’re already a little bit behind.”
Dr. Phuong Nguyen is the Chief Medical Officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Amid a steadily climbing surge of patients, this hospital is now relying more and more on the emergency measures it started taking back in March.
“Part of the reason that we are not at stress currently, at strain currently, it’s because of all the work that the public health departments have done up to this point,” Nguyen says.READ MORE: COVID Vaccines: Contra Costa Drop-In Sites End Frustration Among Those Struggling To Find Appointments
It’s the same story in San Mateo County. The overflow tents at San Mateo Medical Center were readied back at the very start of the pandemic.
“We would then do an initial assessment out here, see if they’re critical,” says Rachel Daly, the hospital’s Clinical Services Manager. “We would safely be able to intubate these patients and then bring them into our facility.”
Hospitals accomplished most of this physical surge preparation months ago and actual hospital space is not much of a worry.
As to which part of the system would be the first to feel the strain, Santa Clara County health officials think the crunch might be staffing because medical professionals can only be shifted and stretched so far.MORE NEWS: COVID Reopening: San Francisco Allows For Small Indoor Gatherings Among Fully Vaccinated
“From ambulatory to inpatient, or from one facility to another,” Nguyen explains. “So currently we have adequate staffing. At some point, if we don’t get the surge under control, we will run into staffing challenges.”