San Joaquin County works to expand hospital capacity as virus cases rise

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — The surge of coronavirus cases that health experts have been warning about is here, according to San Joaquin County health officials. 

St. Joseph’s is just one of seven hospitals in the county that are feeling the strain. 

“We are not trending in the right direction,” said County Director of Emergency Medical Services Dan Burch. 

There are 6,279 cases as of Friday, a rise of 214 since Thursday, and 68 people have died. 

Burch says hospitals are operating above the ICU capacity. 

“The last two weeks the hospitals have been operating at full capacity for the Intensive Care Unit beds, and they’ve had to expand into additional bed space to create room for those patients,” Burch told FOX40. 

Burch says the number of hospitalizations has been dramatically increasing since mid-June, and they expect it to get worse following the Fourth of July weekend. 

“We are seeing that surge right now,” said Burch. “It’s going to get —it’s going to increase.”

San Joaquin County Public Health Services says if this rate continues the county will reach 10,000 cases in less than a month. 

The county is working with the Emergency Medical Services Authority in Sacramento in order to expand the number of available beds at area hospitals. 

“We expect those resources to be deployed next week and we’ll be able to take, we’re going to first put them at Lodi Memorial Hospital and will be able to expand their current 10 ICU beds to 28,” said Burch. 

Burch says every hospital has a surge plan in place and can add additional ICU as needed. 

“Hospitals can expand their ICU capacity, but when you have sustained admissions, then they have to create dedicated units of ICU beds and that’s where we are right now,” explained Burch. 

Public health services says while hospitals can handle the surge of beds needed, there’s now concerns over hospital staffing.

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