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Hospitals making room for more COVID patients

In the last week the number of people requiring hospitalization in San Joaquin County for any ailment or illness declined by four percent.

But the number of those that required hospitalization because of complications from the COVID-19 virus, however, increased by 5 percent even as hospitals across the county thinned out patient loads ahead of a weekend where large groups of people traditionally gather indoors for long periods of time.

At the same time, the county is currently experiencing a surge in the number of people requiring ICU care – up eight percent in the last seven days to reach 115 percent of capacity at the end of the day on Tuesday.

The rise of people requiring that level of care in the ICU that have tested positive for the novel coronavirus has shot up to 29 percent from 17 percent last week.

Those numbers collectively are trending in the opposite direction from where they had been after a decline following the summer surge.

San Joaquin County Public Health Officials are encouraging people in the community to heed the advice of state health experts that are cautioning against large family gatherings for the Thanksgiving weekend. Instead, county officials are urging people to keep their gatherings to three or less households, limit the amount of time spent indoors in close quarters, and to wear masks as often as possible to limit the spread of the virus from asymptomatic carriers.

According to data that was posted to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard Tuesday morning, a total of 242 cases of the virus were confirmed on Monday – the largest single-day total in the county since 240 cases were confirmed on Sept. 1.

While that number is trending upward, it is still less than half of the 535 cases that were confirmed on Aug. 8 – the highest single-day total since the county began tracking the virus in early March.

To date the virus has claimed 504 lives across the county in less than nine months. Deaths are currently occurring in about 2 percent of all cases that are diagnosed. Diabetes remains the comorbidity of most concern at the moment, occurring in 46.2 percent of all patients that die from the novel coronavirus, while cardiovascular disease is found in 39.2 percent of all cases resulting in death. Based on the way the country tracks the numbers, those who perish from the virus may have more than one of the comorbidities that are listed in the evolving data set.

Stockton, with a population of more than 300,000 people, remains the city with the highest concentration of cases in the entire county, and both of the major hospitals that serve the county seat – St. Josephs, the largest hospital in San Joaquin County, and San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp – have exceeded their normal ICU capacity.

According to the numbers released on Tuesday, San Joaquin General is currently at 188 percent of adult ICU capacity, while St. Josephs is currently at 118 percent of ICU capacity.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.