At an emotional press conference Wednesday night, Santa Clara County health officials asked the public to cancel their holiday trips and gather plans to prevent further sky-high COVID-19 cases.
The region’s hospitals are in a state of crisis due to the severe cases with only 35 remaining intensive care units in the whole county. Eight out of 10 hospitals have fewer than five available beds. Three hospitals have fewer than 10 beds of any kind left, says Dr. Ahmad Kamal, COVID-19 Director of Health Preparedness.
“Today there were 68 patients in the emergency room waiting for a hospital bed that did not have one,” he said on Wednesday.
Reports of people planning to travel for the holidays have alerted county and health officials as the number of new daily cases has peaked at 1,200 a day, they said. The sky-high number of admissions since Thanksgiving, when many people traveled and gathered outside their households, is straining the health care system. An increased number of cases after the holiday would give the system the system to unknown territory, they said.
“If we have a wave on top of a wave, we will definitely break. We can not afford that,” said the county health officer Dr. Sara Cody.
All the numbers are going the wrong way and the reality is bleak, she added. Despite begging people not to travel, officials saw a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths after Thanksgiving. On December 23, 632 people have died from COVID-19, and 631 people have been hospitalized with the virus in the county; Nearly 60,000 people have tested positive, said County Councilor James Williams.
In mid-November, a week before Thanksgiving, an average of three people died a day due to COVID-19. A month later, the average rose to almost six people a day. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate per December 13 was 7.7%, the highest since the pandemic began in March. That compares with 3.4% on Nov. 19, a week before Thanksgiving Day, and 1.3% on May 27, county officials said.
“I understand that this is a very harsh message to hear. It is not the message we want to deliver on the eve of the holiday, where our tradition is to come together and the message is even harder to do than to hear. But we can not stress enough that this is a matter of life and death.So please, do not gather.Celebrate only with them in your household.If you have plans to travel, go home and cancel them.Cancel your travel plans. “Celebrate over the phone, over social media, over Zoom. Cook a meal in your home and enjoy it with just the people in your home. It can save a life. It will save a life and it’s very important to do,” he said. Cody.
If the county sees another wave similar to Thanksgiving, “we will see a crisis,” Williams said. COVID-19 is close to being the third leading cause of death in the county this year after cancer and heart disease.
Kamal asked people to cancel their travel plans and gatherings and stay home. As hospital resources dwindle, there is a real risk that many sick patients will not have a bed in the hospital and many more may die.
“We’re talking about people in glands without bed to go to; we’re talking about people not getting hospital treatment. We’re talking about rationing what scarce resources our exhausted health system has left to those who benefit most. We’re talking about people, there dies who should not have died.And when hospitals are at the point where they ration care, where they have to reject people who desperately need their services, it is no longer just about COVID, but everyone. “It’s a car accident; it’s about people having a heart attack. This will affect us all,” Kamal said.
Although the number of cases appears to be slightly softened a month after Thanksgiving, it is not enough to prevent disaster if people travel and gather again and increase the rate, county officials said.
“This is the time when we want to get together when we need to get together, but we can not get together in person … It’s just not safe this year. One of the huge, huge challenges at COVID is , that it is quiet … You can not see it, your beloved does not look dangerous.And you can get chains with silent spread that end with someone being hospitalized or end up with someone dying.But if we each “In particular, we do our part and we stay right inside our household bubble, we can prevent people from dying, and that’s what we need to do. That’s the holiday gift we need to give each other,” Cody said.
See the entire press conference here:
Find comprehensive coverage on Midpenøn’s response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, Mountain View Voice and Almanac here.