Local medical workers brace for surge in COVID-19 cases

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The latest surge of positive COVID-19 cases is leaving California hospital workers bracing for the worst. 

Melissa Johnson-Camacho told FOX40 Monday that for hospital nurses like herself, there is no escape from the coronavirus pandemic.

“You feel like you’re hitting those little pegs up on way up to the roller coaster and we’re not quite towards the top yet. That’s how we feel,” Johnson-Camacho said.

Johnson-Camacho said she has spent the last nine months working through her exhaustion at UC Davis Medical Center, putting her own health on the line to help strangers fight COVID-19. 

“In a pandemic like this, you’re never in a downtime anymore. COVID is always over your shoulder. It’s always like that dark cloud that just never goes away,” Johnson-Camacho explained. “You never know if you’re bringing it back to your family. You never know when you’re the next person that’s going to get sick.”

As cases of coronavirus spike nationwide and California breaks records for hospitalizations, medical workers are bracing for what’s expected to be the worst surge of the virus yet.

Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson told FOX40 the county has hit 80% hospital capacity. 

“We were at 60 to 70 cases a day back in the beginning of November. We’re now at several hundred cases a day,” Beilenson said.

Beilenson said 100 intensive care beds and 400 surge capacity beds are still available. 

If the county reaches its limit, COVID-19 patients will be treated at the old Sleep Train Arena in Natomas where crews are standing ready to treat 250 additional people in need of care.

Dr. Beilenson is urging everyone to do their part so that the county does not get to that point. 

“The issue is we have about five more weeks where we got to really crack down and not gather outside of our family households, period, end of sentence,” he said.

But if the county does get to that point, Johnson-Camacho said nurses like her will be there to provide support while hoping they stay healthy themselves. 

“Once staff start getting each other sick, that’s where we’re going to start running into problems,” she said. “We want to be there at the bedside taking care of patients. We don’t want to be sidelined at home.”

Also announced Monday is that hospitals across the state will soon be testing all health care workers and patients for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, a measure nurses said they’ve been calling for. 

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