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Hospitals Told to Prepare for Surge in COVID-19 Patients

Published on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | 9:03 am
 

As Coronavirus cases continue to surge across the nation, including more than 4,000 new cases in Los Angeles County on Tuesday, hospitals have seen an increase in patients.

Although so far the death rate has remained flat, some experts an increased death rate will follow the increased cases.

Los Angeles County hospitals could run out of available beds within the next two to three weeks, county health officials say.

ICU beds could run out even sooner.

County health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer is urging hospitals to begin putting in place their plans to prepare for a surge.

“If the trajectory continues, the number of ICU beds – our most limited resource, is likely to become inadequate in the near future,” Ferrer wrote in a letter to hospital executives.

As of Wednesday, 64 patients were being treated for the virus at Huntington Hospital, and 22 other tests were pending.

“This is likely the result of the recent reopening of businesses and the desire for people to gather with family and friends over these summer holidays,” said Dr. Kim Shriner, an infectious disease specialist at Huntington Hospital.

“However, the pandemic is not over. We need to remain vigilant by following the recommendations of our local health departments and state mandates.”

Several states, including Texas and Arizona, now say they reopened too quickly. California was lauded by health officials and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s quick response when he became the first governor to issue a Safer-At-Home order.

But Newsom may have used that same haste as he allowed businesses to reopen.

According to the CDC guidelines, states should not reopen until they have had 14 days of declining cases, something no single state has accomplished.

“We are continuing to encourage social distancing, wearing masks and proper hand hygiene for all members of the community,” Shriner said. “If people do not follow these recommendations, we likely will continue to see an increase positive testing and in hospitalizations.”

According to Shriner in order to build herd immunity, which occurs when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease and provides indirect protection to those who are not immune to the disease, 60-70 percent of the general population will have been infected with the virus. So far about 8.7 percent of the US has tested positive for the virus, which means herd immunity is far off.

“We are far from achieving immunity in the general population. This is and has always been a highly contagious virus. The prevalence of this disease is now very high in the general population and this is contributing to the increase number of cases. In addition, we are concerned that we are now seeing more symptomatic and younger individuals. It is apparent that everyone should do their very best not to become infected. Social distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene and avoiding large gatherings are still the most effective way of preventing disease.

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