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COVID-19

Central, South Coast Hospitals Still Have ICU Capacity; Ventura County Tops 11%

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(Photo Courtesy Ventura County)
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Ventura County's eight hospitals still have more than 11% ICU capacity as of Wednesday.

The spike in new coronavirus case numbers is continuing to grow on the Central and South Coasts.  410 additional cases were reported Wednesday.  Public health officials say area hospitals are nowhere near full, but say we are seeing troubling trends in that direction.

Dr. John Fankhauser is CEO of Ventura County Medical Center, and Santa Paula Hospital.  He says the ICU’s at the county’s eight hospitals had more than 11% capacity available on Wednesday.  The entire Southern California region was at 9%.

Dr. Fankhauser says the makeup of who is ending up on region’s hospitals is changing.  It’s not just older adults with pre-existing health conditions.  They are increasingly seeing younger people admitted for COVID-19 and its complications.

If some of the county’s eight hospitals are filled, there are plans in place.  The hospitals are set to share extra capacity with each other. Ventura County CEO Mike Powers says at a larger level, hospitals in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo can reach across county lines to help each other.

Ventura County has announced a new effort in its hospitals to try to keep medical staff safe, and healthy, with weekly testing.

But, the big news for the county’s health care providers is the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine is imminent.   Because they’re at highest risk, they are first in line for vaccinations.  Ventura County Public Health Director Dr. Rigoberto Vargas say they expect vaccinations to begin next week.

Despite that bit of good news, public health officials remain worried.  They caution the ongoing increase in numbers could be complicated by a second wave, a Thanksgiving related spike in new COVID-19 cases. 

The region has now surpassed the 43,000 mark since the start of the pandemic, with 43,350 cases. 

There have now been 381 COVID-19 related deaths in the region.  Ventura County has had 197 of those deaths.  The county’s public health officials cite that number as something people who are still skeptical should note. 

The county’s worst flu season in recent years had just over 40 deaths.  The current death toll is nearly five times that, and still growing.