CORONAVIRUS

California Grapples With Dangerously Low 3% ICU Capacity Amid COVID-19 Surge

The Southern California region has hit zero remaining intensive care unit space.

California is nearing zero capacity in its intensive care units as COVID-19 cases continue to surge, state authorities reported Thursday.

As of Thursday morning, there was just 3% ICU capacity statewide, the California Department of Public Health revealed on its statewide metrics database

Among the five regions that Gov. Gavin Newsom designated for pandemic purposes, Southern California is the only one at zero ICU capacity as of Thursday. The San Joaquin Valley wasn’t far behind, with just 0.7% of ICU space available. The remaining three regions range from around 11% to 26% availability. 

The numbers are staggering. California reported 52,000 new cases on Thursday, about the same number the entire country was averaging in mid-October. More than 16,000 people statewide have been hospitalized with the coronavirus or suspected cases of it, with more than 3,000 of them in the ICU. There were 393 deaths recorded Wednesday, setting a new single-day record in the state.

Some local officials have taken today’s numbers as a cue to tighten their own restrictions.

“COVID-19 cases are surging in San Francisco and across the country,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement discouraging travel and implementing 10-day quarantines for anyone entering the region. “Hospitals in the Bay Area are close to being overwhelmed. We must do whatever we can to contain the virus and stop its circulation in our community. Now is not the time to travel and risk being exposed or exposing others.”

ICU capacity dropping statewide has left hospitals desperate and reaching out to other counties to take on their patients, only to find their neighbors in the same situation

“As an ICU doctor, I’m not scared by much,” Dr. Laura Eberhard, chief of the critical care department at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, told the Marin County Board of Supervisors this week. “But I find the prospect of having a hospital and an ICU overflowing — and concerned about not being able to take good care of our residents of Marin — I find that scary.”

 

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