San Diego County COVID-19 hospitalizations spike again

Doctors worry local spike will mimic national trend
COVID-19 coronavirus hospital nurse
Posted at 4:08 PM, Aug 23, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As COVID-19 numbers spike again, hospitals across the country are having to turn away non-COVID patients from their ICUs. Doctors here predict that if hospitalization numbers continue to increase, San Diego would have to do the same.

The state of the county's COVID-19 positive rates is drastically increasing again. Compared to last month [7/20/2021], the daily case count went from 521 to 1,498 just this weekend [8/21/2021]. In the same period, the percentage of positive cases went from 5.1% to 8.7%.

"As a society, we are in big big trouble," Dr. Christian Ramers, Infectious disease specialist at Family Health Centers of San Diego, said. "Healthcare staff are at our wit's end. I'll just speak for all of us."

RELATED: Scripps Health delaying non-urgent procedures citing staffing shortage, climbing COVID cases

Dr. Ramers said San Diego County is having a difficult time keeping staff employed.

"It's something called moral trauma. Moral injury. And we going to this field because we care about people and we want to take care of people, but the way healthcare workers have been treated poorly, we are exhausted after a year and a half, two years."

According to the county, hospitalizations increased from 200 a day to 750 a day in the last month. More than 97% of those patients are not fully vaccinated. At the same time, ICU bed use also jumped from 52 to 145.

Even with the increase, San Diego County stats show a healthy 77% hospital capacity. But Ramers said this figure might be misleading.

"Even though we have [around] 25% of our beds open, those beds are useless if they don't have nurses and staff to operate them," Dr. Ramers said.

With the unrelenting delta variant, steady decline in hospital staff, and the upcoming winter season, Ramers believed it is only a matter of time before San Diego health care facilities will have to turn patients away.

"God forbid somebody gets in a car accident on the way home, and there are no ICU beds for them," Dr. Ramers said. "There’s no way we can keep up with 1,000 cases a day. Absolutely no way."