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Health Officials Warn Of Dwindling ICU Beds, Overcrowded Hospitals: COVID-19 Update For Dec. 11

Kaweah Delta Health Care District

Five days into a regional stay-at-home order, COVID-19 infections in the San Joaquin Valley are soaring and hospitals are scrambling to make space on floors already crowded with flu patients. On Thursday of this week, the California Department of Public Health estimated that intensive care units in the San Joaquin Valley reported fewer than 2 percent of their beds were available, all while more people are dying of the virus than they have in months.

In stark contrast, an FDA advisory panel has given the greenlight for the FDA to approve emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, which means hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses could be on their way to California in a matter of days.

This week’s COVID-19 update addresses this juxtaposition of scarcity with optimism, featuring excerpts of conversations with Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra, Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd, and Mariposa County Health Officer Dr. Eric Sergienko.

Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication):

As of Dec. 10:

For comparison, as of Dec. 3:

  • 1,643 deaths out of 136,708 cases
  • 821 people hospitalized and 149 in ICUs
  • In the last week, 53 people succumbed to the disease
  • Average cases reported daily in the last week: 1,335

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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