Local leaders discuss ICU capacity as virus cases surge

Hospital (FILE)
Posted at 4:36 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 20:16:41-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern Public Health gave a Covid-19 update on Thursday morning, as economic restrictions continue to be imposed on local businesses as a result of the region's limited ICU capacity.

The reason those harsh economic restrictions are being implemented is that the San Joaquin Valley region has fallen quite a bit below the 15% capacity threshold. In fact, the state says our region is now at only 1.9 percent.

“Kern’s hospital capacity fluctuates every day, however, overall, the stats illustrate our capacity is decreasing," said Brynn Carrigan, Assistant Director of Kern Public Health.

As of Thursday, Public Health says 225 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, and they say that number is up from 187 last week. They also say 54 people are in the intensive care unit, compared with 41 last week.

“The hospitals have been preparing very diligently from the beginning of this pandemic, over 10 months ago, for this exact situation," said Russel Judd, CEO of Kern Medical.

The San Joaquin Valley region, which includes Kern, Fresno, and Tulare Counties, among others, has been hit with harsh economic restrictions by the state because its available ICU capacity has fallen below 15% amid a statewide covid surge. As an aggregate, the region is at 1.9 percent capacity, and Kern alone is at about 5.7 percent by the state’s estimate.

“Now is not the time where we are at crisis, however we do continue to encourage individuals to be safe to avoid the spread of the disease so that we do not hit that crisis point," Judd said, adding that Kern County hospitals are used to dealing with surges.

“You could have pointed to a random day in December any time over the last couple of years and found us in the exact same hospitalization state," Judd said.

Judd says kern medical can handle where they are now, but they are concerned about what may be around the corner. Meanwhile, the more that hospitalizations increase, the further Kern County business get from being able to reopen. County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop sounding off on the many small businesses around the state that are defying the state’s orders.

“You’ve got people pushing back, and again simply trying to survive. They are not being given a pathway to do that, Alsop said.