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Sutter Health updates vaccine appointment scheduling to start ‘soon’ | COVID-19 updates for Northern California

There have been more than 28,000 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic. Hospitals in many areas have no more ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Sutter Health updates vaccine distribution plan, appointment scheduling to start ‘soon’

With the first phase of coronavirus vaccine distribution underway in California, officials at Sutter Health say Phase 1B should be starting soon.

“Next week, we will begin the vaccine rollout to patients, starting with patients age 75 and older and healthcare workers. We will continue to follow California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and CDC guidelines as we work through the tiered system,” Sutter Health officials wrote in a press release on Friday.

According to the press release, healthcare workers and patients over the age of 75 can begin receiving their vaccinations. And patients will soon be able to make appointments through “My Health Online” or through a not-yet-established phone number.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine from Sutter Health.

State releases latest COVID-19 statistics 

On Friday, the state of California announced just over 50,000 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the state total to 2,568,641. There were also nearly 500 deaths reported, bringing the state's death total to 28,538.

The state also updated its ICU capacity numbers for its five regions:

  • Greater Sacramento Region: 6.4% (down from 9.2%)
  • Northern California: 27.5% (up from 25.4%)
  • San Joaquin Valley: 0% (static)
  • Bay Area: 3% (down from 3.5%)
  • Southern California: 0% (static)

Bay Area hospital fined for holiday costume

Kaiser Permanente has been fined $43,000 for failing to report a deadly coronavirus outbreak that may have been caused by an inflatable holiday costume worn by an unknowingly infected staffer on Christmas Day.

The number of cases linked to the outbreak at the Kaiser San Jose Emergency Department has reached 60 personnel as of Thursday, said Santa Clara County's public health department, and one staffer has died.

County officials said the department learned of the infections through press statements issued this week by the Oakland-based hospital chain. Kaiser is responsible for timely reporting of cases, the county said.

Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Hilary Costa said Friday that the company is reviewing the notice. The penalty breaks down to $1,000 for each of the initial 43 cases.

The positive cases may stem from a blow-up costume worn by an infected staffer who briefly visited the department Dec. 25. Such costumes usually rely on battery-operated fans to suck air into the costume to keep its shape. COVID-19 spreads through droplets, which is why investigators are looking into the air circulation function of the fan.

County officials say that the outbreak strain is not the new and more contagious variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

State bypasses tough nurse care rules amid virus surge

Facing a massive surge in coronavirus cases, California has been issuing waivers allowing hospitals to temporarily bypass the nation's only strict nurse-to-patient ratios

Nurses say that being forced to take on more patients is pushing them to the brink of burnout and affecting patient care. At least 250 of about 400 hospitals in California have been granted 60-day waivers. They allow ICU nurses to care for three instead of two people and emergency room nurses to oversee six patients instead of three. Nurses in other states have demanded law-mandated ratios like those in California, but so far have failed to get them.

California's massive coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll both on hospitals and those who staff them. Nurses at one hospital in the city of Orange say they are seeing a couple of deaths daily in the COVID-19 wards. 

Donna Rottschafer, a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital, says she has seen more people die in recent weeks than in decades of nursing. California on Thursday reported 583 new deaths. There have been more than 28,000 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic. Hospitals in many areas have no more ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients. 

Officials say they are worried that holiday gatherings could swell the hospital population further in the next few weeks. The California Hospital Association says the state is moving too slowly to find ways to handle so many cases. State officials counter that moves made this week to limit nonessential surgeries and transfer patients to hospitals with more available beds will save lives.


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