SAN JOSE (KPIX) – As public health officials grapple with a post-holiday surge in coronavirus cases, regional stay-at-home orders for the Bay Area will remain in place indefinitely until the strain on the healthcare system is relieved.
“We’ve been at or over capacity for six weeks, says Dr. Paul Silka, the Emergency Department Medical Director for San Jose’s Regional Hospital.
Dr. Silka says his hospital has frequently been placed on “diversion” — a scenario in which new incoming patients are sent or diverted to other hospitals — because Regional is too full to accept additional ones.
“We’re always making sure that the sickest of the sick are getting the care they need. But there are considerable waits and delays for those patients,” says Dr. Silka.
Public health officials warn the situation at Regional Medical Center could soon happen to hospitals countywide. The regional stay-at-home order that was implemented after Thanksgiving was designed to slow the virus down and prevent hospitals from running out of beds, equipment and nurses and doctors to staff them.
“It’s not just rationing care to people who have COVID. Everyone gets subject to that rationing. So, it’s really a matter of who has the best chance of recovering from whatever condition they have. We are not quite there yet in our county,” says Dr. Ahmed Kamal with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
But it’s not just healthcare systems feeling the strain and the pain of the post-holiday surge and stay-at-home orders.
“It’s jut been getting tougher and tougher. I don’t know how much longer we can last,” says Jim Angelopoulos, owner of Yolked Restaurant. He says his business is on life support too.
“I think we have about two months before we run out of reserves. It’s just gone from bad to worse,” says Angelopoulos.