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Santa Clara County runs dangerously low on ICU beds, releases vaccine distribution information

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By Wesley Severson - Published on December 03, 2020.

Officials with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said Wednesday that just 12% of the hospital beds in the county were available and that there were only 44 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds countywide that were not being used.

The announcement that hospitals were at 88% capacity came during a press conference held by county medical officials. They said that there are currently 1,955 patients in county hospitals right now and that 287 of them are coronavirus patients.

“The number of patients hospitalized continues to rise, and we continue to be at risk of exceeding capacity,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

“We are especially concerned because none of the hospitals serving South County and East San Jose had more than five ICU beds available as of yesterday. What this means is the hospitals in our hardest-hit communities have the fewest beds available for those in need,” Tong said.

According to the SF Chronicle, three hospitals in Santa Clara County, St. Louise Regional, O’Connor Hospital, and Valley Medical Center started canceling elective surgeries if the patients have had to stay at the hospital after the procedures. 

The public health department also released new information about how Santa Clara County plans to start distributing vaccines once they arrive which could be before the end of the year. 

The county says vaccine administrators will manage the supply and be in charge of things like delivering the doses, tracking the recipients, and recording possible adverse side-effects.

Tong says at least five ultra-cold storage freezers used to hold the doses at negative 90-degrees have been added to several of the county’s medical facilities.

"I literally, before coming to the press conference, was on the phone with a group that was telling me that freezers had arrived on a truck as of yesterday," Tong said at the press conference. 

According to KPIX, Sutter Health has also installed at least 15 of the specialized freezers throughout its network of medical facilities in Santa Clara County.

Santa Clara county says healthcare workers and nursing home residents will likely be the first to get the vaccines but the county doesn’t have an exact number of how many doses it will actually get once they do come.

"We do not yet have firm numbers on the exact number we will receive but we are prepared to store and then distribute the full volume of what we do receive,” Tong said.

According to the Mercury News, 40 million doses will be ready by the end of December for distribution nationwide but since it requires two doses to be effective only 20-million Americans will actually receive it. California is expected to get 327,000 doses in its first delivery which according to Governor Gavin Newsom, is not nearly enough to suit the needs of the state.

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