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San Joaquin County ICUs at 121% capacity, federal assistance arrives to help

On Wednesday a team of 20, including physicians and respiratory therapists, arrived to help hospitals in the county.

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. — So far, in California, 347,634 people tested positive for coronavirus. San Joaquin County accounts for just 2% of the state's cases; however, staffing and bed availability remains an issue for the county's hospitals.

San Joaquin County's Emergency Medical Services Manager Dan Burch said the strain placed on the hospital is concerning with ICUs operating at 121% capacity and hospital capacity at 71%.

"I think everyone in San Joaquin County should be concerned about the current situation," Burch said. "We've been seeing since June 17 a daily 4% increase in hospitalizations for COVID patients in the county."

On Wednesday, the county announced a team of 20 federal medical professionals arrived to help front line workers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, and registered nurses, arrived in the county to help the county expand its intensive care bed capacity.

"The deployment of the federal medical assistance team to San Joaquin County will increase intensive care bed capacity by up to 15%," said Dan Burch, San Joaquin County EMS administrator. "However, hospital staffing shortages remain a challenge for all of our hospitals."

Burch said the hospitals have plans to expand the ICU capacity; however, the hospitals had not been able to ease the strain because they did not have enough staff to treat all patients.

"We received a federal medical assistance team to augment our staffing at one of our hospitals in Lodi so they can expand the ICU capacity," Burch said.

While the number of patients with the coronavirus continues to rise, a majority of the people occupying hospital and ICU beds in San Joaquin County are not COVID-19 patients. So, let's break it down:

HOSPITAL BED OCCUPATION RATES

While the county's hospital beds are being used near capacity (at 71% full), the county reports that only 28% of the people occupying the 699 hospital beds are COVID-19 positive. 

In San Joaquin County, the hospitals with the highest number of COVID-19 patients and COVID-19 patients in the ICU include: 

  • St. Joseph's Medical Center (41 patients in ICU)
  • San Joaquin General Hospital (10 patients in the ICU)
  • Adventist Health Lodi Memorial Hospital (6 patients in the ICU)

RELATED: Coronavirus testing in California to focus on those hospitalized with virus

ICU BED OCCUPATION RATES 

It's a different story, though, when you look at the ICU capacity numbers. 

Right now, the county reports 120 of its beds are being used and says it means 121% of its licensed ICU beds are occupied. 

Out of the people in those beds, 66 are COVID-19 positive, which means more than half of the ICU beds in San Joaquin County are being occupied by a person fighting COVID-19. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some numbers reported in this article are as of July 15, 2020, per a release shared with ABC10 by San Joaquin County Public Information Officer Tiffany Heyer.

ACROSS THE SACRAMENTO REGION

Sacramento, Placer, Solano and Stanislaus counties are also experiencing similar strains with increased coronavirus patients on top of other people needing medical assistance. 

For counties like Placer and Stanislaus, county officials report the number of patients coming from around the region is adding to their hospital counts, which continue to climb higher.

Sacramento, Placer and Solano counties continue to have a significant rise in coronavirus hospitalizations and a lowered number of available ICU beds. For these reasons, the California Department of Public keeps the counties on the data monitoring list.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES

CORONAVIRUS CONTEXT

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine. The CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

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WATCH ALSO: How is Sacramento preparing hospitals for a coronavirus surge?