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Mobile hospitals pop up in California as model predicts 100,000 hospitalizations in a month

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 5:56 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 07:57:04-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has recorded a half-million coronavirus cases in the last two weeks, overwhelming hospitals in urban centers and rural areas.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says a projection model shows California could have 100,000 hospitalizations in the next month.

Mobile field hospitals are being set up outside facilities to supplement available bed space. At least three are being set up in the Los Angeles and Orange County area, which hit 0% ICU bed availability last week.

Other "alternative care" facilities, as the governor refers to them, have been set up near Sacramento and along the Mexican border about 50 miles east of San Diego.

“The ICU is at 105% capacity,” Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee said of St. Jude. “They’re using every available bed. The emergency department has an overflow ... All the Orange County hospitals are in the same situation. It is dire, so they’ll soon be erecting a tent in the parking lot, probably for triage. I think what we’re seeing is not a surge, but a tsunami.”

The governor says he’s likely to extend his stay-at-home order for much of the state. He acknowledged the orders for the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions will probably be extended. The orders remain in place for three weeks, and are triggered when a region's available ICU bed capacity dips below 15%.

Both of those regions, which combined cover 23 of 58 counties and the lower half of the state, have an ICU bed availability level of 0% according to the California Department of Public Health. The San Francisco Bay area has an ICU bed availability of 13.7%, it's at 16.2% in the Sacramento region and 28.7% in Northern California.

Newsom gave Monday’s briefing from his home as he quarantined for the second time in two months after a staff member tested positive for the virus.