Hospitals worried they might exceed capacity because of coronavirus surge

Health officials in the Bay Area are raising serious concerns about the rapid rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. They’re especially worried heading into the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Some Bay Area counties are seeing steep rises in hospitalizations. Officials warn if rates continue, hospitals could not only reach but exceed capacity.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, hospitals throughout the Bay Area are seeing the impacts.

“Our unit is approaching full capacity for coronavirus patients,” said Liz Thurstone, a nurse at Regional Medical Center.

Regional Medical Center in San Jose has a dedicated coronavirus unit maxed at 35 patients who don't require a ventilator.

The hospital is anticipating that the unit could reach capacity in the coming weeks. An overflow unit will be opened if needed.

“We are very well prepared to take care of any surge that comes our way, we have more than adequate PPE,” said Thurstone.

Santa Clara County saw the highest seven-day average of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of Covid-19 patients in the ICU has doubled to more than 50 patients in Santa Clara County. 

While that may not seem like a lot, what’s troubling is how fast that number rose.

“That kind of rise is unsustainable,” said Dr. Angela Rogers, Stanford Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist. “If it’s 50 this week and 100 in two weeks, then we are going to have to start looking at the things we were doing in March with canceling surgeries for cancer and other things to make room for ICU patients with Covid.”

Rogers works in the ICU at Stanford. The hospital has seen a rise in hospitalizations from three weeks ago.

“We are very fearful about what the next two, four, six weeks will bring if we don't really tamp down,” said Dr. Rogers.

It’s not just Santa Clara County but throughout the state. San Francisco’s health official said the city is on track to exceed hospitalizations if the curve isn't flattened.

“I can just tell you firsthand at UCSF we have more than doubled hospitalizations in the last day or so,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist. “I would say it’s growing at a very breathtaking pace.”

With infection rates high, doctors urge vigilance and staying within the household and social bubble as much as possible even though it is Thanksgiving week.

“My biggest plea with your many viewers is this week with Thanksgiving try really hard not to meet in groups,” said  Rogers.