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Health Officials Say Get-Togethers, Thanksgiving Spike Central, South Coast COVID-19 Numbers

Public health officials say we are seeing the impacts of gatherings and a Thanksgiving surge in the total number of coronavirus cases on the Central and South Coast.  More than 3600 new cases were reported from Saturday through Monday.   Ventura County Public Health officials say the county is close to a crisis point with hospital capacity.

Ventura County had 2651 cases over the three day period, Santa Barbara County 691, and San Luis Obispo County 259.   Santa Barbara County had its highest single day total of the pandemic Monday, reporting 360 cases.

The 11 county Southern California region’s hospital ICU availability rate is down to 2.7%.  It’s at just 1.4% in Ventura County.  The ICU availability rate is the key number being used by the state to trigger shutdowns.  Areas of the state which drop below 15% have been hit by shutdown orders. 

Ventura County Public Health officials cite a singalong event in the parking lot of a Thousand Oaks mall over the weekend as an example of people being unsafe.  They say there were hundreds of people not socially distancing, and most didn't have masks.  County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin says there have been a number of dangerous gatherings which have defied health orders, from indoor church services to sports events.

Dr. Levin says gatherings are adding to the surge we are seeing from Thanksgiving get-togethers.

Dr. Mark LePore is an ICU doctor at Ventura County Medical Center.  LePore says the hospitals are running out of capacity, but it’s not space that’s the issue, it's staffing.  Contingency plans included bringing in outside nurses, but the pandemic means that outside help is virtually impossible to find.

Dr. Levin says people have got to step up now, and take steps like wearing masks, socially distancing, and especially avoiding gatherings.

He says as things now stand some of the county’s eight hospitals could soon be pushed past their limits.

And, Dr. Levin says it’s not just the COVID-19 patients who are at risk.  He notes things could be tough when an ICU is full, and an ambulance arrives with a car accident, or heart attack victim.

Public health officials say for those who still don’t get it, they should look at the math.

There were 3600 new cases on the Central and South Coasts from Saturday through Monday.  Statistically, at least 10% of them will end up in a hospital.  That’s 360 people.  And, about two percent will end up in an ICU.  That’s 72 people new people in our area in ICU’s for just a three-day period. 

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.