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Southern California ICU beds fill to capacity as coronavirus surges; state reports 0% available beds

Virus Outbreak US Surge
Posted at 2:29 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 17:03:39-05

LOS ANGELES — Hospitals across California have all but run out of intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients, ambulances are backing up outside emergency rooms, and tents for triaging the sick are going up.

The LA Times is reporting there are fewer than 100 ICU beds available in the Los Angeles County area, a metropolis of roughly 10 million people.

For the whole Southern California region, the state is reporting 0% of ICU beds are available in their daily update. The region encompasses Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield and surrounding suburbs in a 10-county area.

On Thursday, the state reported a staggering 52,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day — about equal to what the entire U.S. was averaging in mid-October — and a one-day record of 379 deaths. Los Angeles County contributed more than 22,000 of those new cases reported Thursday.

The California Department of Public Health says some of that large increase in Thursday's numbers is because they processed a backlog of tests from the previous few days.

ICU bed capacity is less than 1% in the central San Joaquin Valley region, it’s slightly better in the Sacramento and San Francisco area, which are at 11.3% and 13.1% respectively. Northern California, areas north of Sacramento and the Bay Area, have almost 26% of their ICU beds available.

More than 16,000 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 in California, more than triple the number from one month earlier. The LA Times reports that at some hospitals in the Los Angeles County area, there is a four-to-five hour wait for an ambulance to offload a patient at the hospital.

If a patient needs an ICU bed and none are available, it means hospital staff must house them in an area of the facility that is not normally designed for intensive care patients, which could lead to an increased level of mortality.

If California were a separate country, it would rank 10th in the world for total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with 1,723,362, and 17th in the world for total coronavirus deaths, with 21,860.

Also on Thursday, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced a 10-day mandatory quarantine for anyone traveling into the Bay Area, or anyone returning back to the area after leaving.

The mandatory quarantine health order applies to 9 counties in northwest California: San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Santa Cruz.

The health order states people who are in quarantine must have no physical interactions with others outside their household except for emergency or health care situations.