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COVID fills 95% of ICU beds in SJC
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With confirmed cases of COVID-19 skyrocketing in San Joaquin County – which saw a massive increase in the number of cases in just the last two weeks – hospital beds are becoming scarce.

And the important intensive care unit beds can be lifesaving for those requiring intubation?

Those are going even faster.

According to the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, approximately 95 percent of the 99 licensed ICU beds across the county’s seven major hospitals were taken as of Friday afternoon – leaving an average of less than one bed per hospital for prospective patients.

While the county has around 950 hospital beds spread out over those seven hospitals, those beds were 70 percent full as of Friday afternoon and only 17 percent of the total patients being cared for by medical staff in the county had confirmed cased of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The numbers come just as the State of California tightens the reins on counties that were previously granted the freedom to reopen at their own pace from the restrictive conditions that were placed on them when the virus first began spreading throughout the state back in March.

The virus, which is disproportionately affecting Latino residents in the county who account for more than 41 percent of all cases, has now been confirmed in 4,474 patients – adding 1,816 cases in just the last two weeks alone.

According to the numbers on the COVID-19 dashboard updated on Friday by the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health Services, 128 people are currently hospitalized with the virus across the county – significantly higher than the ceiling of 20 that was set by the agency.

With 48 total outbreaks confirmed and a community transmission rate of more than 60 percent, the virus has prompted health officials and medical experts across the county to brace for even more shocking numbers as residents head into a 3-day weekend that is typically inclusive of barbecues, gatherings, and other social events taking place around Independence Day.

At least 55 people have died of the virus in the county, which corresponds to a rate of 1.2 percent of all confirmed cases. At least 2,222 people have been diagnosed with and recovered from the virus.

According to San Joaquin County emergency planner Tiffany Heyer, the 95 percent ICU occupancy rate does not include possible surge capacity at a number of county hospitals – wings or units that can be converted into ICU beds if the situation calls for it.

Currently Doctors Hospital of Manteca has a total of 8 licensed ICU beds and 73 licensed hospital beds, while Kaiser’s Manteca center has 6 licensed ICU beds and 61 licensed hospital beds. The two hospitals combined don’t have the space of larger hospitals elsewhere in the county like San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp which has 16 licensed ICU beds and 196 licensed hospital beds and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton which has 39 licensed ICU beds and 365 licensed hospital beds.

Hospitals throughout the county are believed to have COVID surge capacity even if the licensed ICU beds fill up and have been working with the county’s Office of Emergency Services to provide up-to-date information including daily patient census reports that are forwarded on to the State of California for tracking purposes.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.