Saturday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recorded over 2.6 million cases of COVID-19 in the state, a 52,000-plus increase over the previous day. Now, the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital has implemented its "COVID-19 surge plan" in response to a deluge of new hospitalizations.
There's no shaking loose from the sobering fact that we're in the darkest days of the pandemic yet — with little to no light in sight, at least for a few more weeks. (And that pending illumination is very much predicated on the success of the state and country’s hobbled vaccine rollout.) Following proper social distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitation practices continue to be our best available tools to bend the curve.
California COVID-19, By The Numbers:— CA Public Health (@CAPublicHealth) January 10, 2021
🔹 Confirmed cases to date: 2,621,277
🔹 Note: Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed
More information at https://t.co/TLLUGwPGY7. pic.twitter.com/qwWuxewpMM
Nevertheless, the recent Christmas and New Year’s surges have forced one of San Francisco’s hardest-hit hospitals to enact its "COVID-19 surge plan" in order to contend with the current caseloads it’s seeing.
"We are already seeing an overflow of our intensive care unit into the post-anesthesia care unit or the PAC-U," said Dr. Christopher Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital, to ABC7's Dion Lim.
Colwell revealed the hospital has needed to take drastic measures as of late and will soon open "at least 4 regular floor wards and 3 ICU areas" to deal with the influx of COVID-19 patients; Zuckerberg SF General Hospital is currently treating 59 positive COVID-19 cases — the highest number it has since seen the pandemic began in March of 2020.
"It means that we have to open yet another ward for COVID-only patients. It means we need to put more limitations on any surgeries beyond the urgent or emergency surgeries, also limitations on primary care, clinic and outpatient clinics," Colwell waxed, having prior explained the hospital is just one case away from entering its "red tier surge plan."
Since vaccines are given directly to providers (Kaiser, UCSF, etc), we don't currently know exactly how many have been distributed in SF.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) January 8, 2021
The state is working on making this available.
CA's prioritization list, which we must follow, can be found here: https://t.co/rBDFrmIX7P
Should things worsen, the local news outlet noted that a tent at the South East health clinic can accept more COVID-19 cases as available bed counts continue to decline.
Thankfully, there are at least some yet-used ICU beds in San Francisco and the Bay Area region — something that can't be said for the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions.
"We still have some ICU capacity," Colwell adds in closing. "Thankfully the majority of those 59 that are in the hospital and that admitted to the hospital now is not in the ICU numbers have been generally about a third and we are just a tad lower than that in about 14."
As of Saturday, the CDPH notes Bay Area's ICU capacity sits at 3%, its lowest percentage to date. The only region in California that's yet to fall under the state's mandated stay-at-home order — which necessitates any county in California with less than 15% ICU capacity to enter a lockdown similar to what we experienced in March, though a bit looser — is Northern California; the ICU capacity for the area is around 26% at the moment.
Image: Getty Images via Morsa Images