The variety of available beds in intensive care units is plummeting. Within the San Joaquin Valley, hospitals ran out over the weekend, resorting to “surge capability.” And in Southern California, a area that features Los Angeles and San Diego, ICU capability dipped to simply 0.5 p.c Wednesday.
“I wish to be very clear: Our hospitals are underneath siege, and our mannequin reveals no finish in sight,” Christina Ghaly, director of L.A. County’s Division of Well being Companies, mentioned at a dire information briefing.
As a result of it takes, on common, more than a week for folks to get sick sufficient to be hospitalized, at the moment’s capability numbers really mirror case numbers which can be roughly 10 days previous, when the state was reporting 10,000 fewer infections.
“The worst,” Ghaly promised, “continues to be earlier than us.”
The fast enhance in new circumstances, virus hospitalizations and deaths — which have practically all doubled — comes at a precarious level within the pandemic. California has already reenacted powerful restrictions meant to curb the coronavirus’s unfold, but it has continued unabated.
For as soon as, although, there’s some excellent news: The vaccines have arrived, and California’s first doses had been injected into the arms of health-care employees throughout the state this week.
However on the identical time, the state continues to be reeling from an inflow of latest infections tied to Thanksgiving vacation gatherings whereas dealing with the prospect of an extra surge after Christmas.
And the vaccine, specialists agree, gained’t save folks from that.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) laid out the state’s “mass fatality” plan on Tuesday: Sixty refrigerated storage items, every 53 ft lengthy, to retailer the our bodies that gained’t slot in morgues and 5,000 extra physique baggage.
“There’s a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel,” Newsom mentioned. “However we’re nonetheless within the tunnel. And meaning we’re going by way of maybe probably the most intense and pressing second for the reason that starting of this pandemic.”
Newsom pleaded along with his residents: “We aren’t on the end line but, so please, please, please be conscious.”
In Los Angeles County, probably the most populous within the nation, Ghaly outlined what the general public ought to count on with hospitals stretched so skinny. It’ll imply worse medical care throughout the board — for the sufferers with covid-19 and with out, who could have suffered a coronary heart assault or gotten right into a automobile accident, she mentioned. There’s solely a lot house and so many workers to care for everybody in want.
“All of this implies,” Ghaly mentioned, “that we are going to have a rise in deaths within the days and weeks to return.”
Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county’s public well being division, mentioned the charges of an infection, hospitalization and loss of life are all rising quicker for Los Angeles’s Latino and Black residents than for White residents. The hole between wealthy and poor can also be rising, as folks residing in poverty proceed to be at a better danger of an infection and loss of life.
“All through the pandemic, the life-and-death penalties of racism and poverty have performed out in devastating methods, they usually proceed to take action,” Ferrer mentioned, talking on the identical Wednesday information convention as Ghaly.
After the 2 officers spoke, Denise Whitfield, an emergency division doctor in Los Angeles, took the lectern. She was there to ship a message that she mentioned hasn’t gotten by way of to sufficient folks: “That is actual, and it’s one thing that must be taken significantly.”
Her shift within the ER final weekend was the primary time in her profession when she wasn’t certain she might give each affected person the very best care. There have been simply too many. And if the numbers proceed to extend, she mentioned, she fears all of her shifts might go this fashion.
Wanting straight on the digital camera, she mentioned: “It’s actually, actually fairly horrifying to me.”
Jacqueline Dupree contributed to this report.