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Ventura County Officials Say County Down To Five Available Hospital ICU Beds, But Managing Surge

The surge has many of the Central and South Coast’s hospitals close to overflowing. In Ventura County, the hospital intensive care unit capacity is technically at zero percent, although there are a handful of beds available.

As the number of positive COVID-19 cases grows in the region, so does the number of people in hospitals.  In Ventura County, just under 970 people are in the county’s eight hospitals, with nearly half of them COVID patients.

Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin says they are down to five open ICU beds countywide.

Dr. Mark Lepore is with Ventura County Medical Center’s ICU.  He says his great fear is they will run out of resources to help the COVID-19 patients who have been showing up in increasing numbers.

Plans call for using some older hospital rooms, and even hospital conference rooms as patient space if needed.  But, the bigger issue is staffing, with medical teams already stretched thin. 

Officials emphasize we aren’t at that point yet where hospitals have to use crisis protocols like those being used in Los Angeles.  But, they say we are getting closer to that point. 

Ventura County health officials say the next two to four weeks could be the toughest of the pandemic, with new cases from the holidays building on the current surge. 

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.