Covid: Fresno, California on brink with hospital ICUs full

RITU JHA

The surge in Covid-19 cases has put Fresno ‘on the brink,’ officials in the California county said as the clock ticked toward a grim Christmas.

The hospital ICUs are filled to capacity in Fresno and the city coroner’s office has had to order extra trucks to keep the dead bodies.

The county has had 59,383 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 646 deaths as of early morning on Thursday, December 24.

We are in a really grim, challenging time,” Dr Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer, said during a media briefing December 22.

We have zero percent capacity and very expanded ICU capacity and our hospitals have added ICU beds, [utilized] auditorium floor, office spaces and expanded and stretched.

We cannot handle more surge,” he said. “We are already on the brink.”

Dr Anneli von Reinhart, an emergency room physician at the Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, said the increasing number of hospitalizations and deaths were foreseeable.

We are seeing the consequence of the choices everyone made during Thanksgiving… kind of exponential growth of cases, and we can’t handle it anymore,” she said.

There is no backup and no one is coming to save us.”

The whole country is in this, so earlier we had some help from the Department of Defense ,” Reinhart said. “All those teams are gone because we are not the only one in trouble right now, so there are no travel nurses we can hire and bring in to the state”

There is no back up and this is what we have got,” she said.

Dr Patrick MacMillan, chief of Hospice and Palliative Care and associate clinical professor at University of California San Francisco, said the future looked grim.

We are expecting beyond what we have seen and if people don’t stay home for Christmas this year, we are going to see something that is hard to believe and imagine,” he said.

Asked by indica News about cases of Covid-19 in South Asians in the county, Dr Vohra said they were tracking the epidemiological demographic information, and “and reaching out through the community-based organizations.”

According to the Health Equity Dashboard on www.covid19.ca.gov that tracks California’s health equity measure and data by race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity, 87,036 Asians have had Covid-19 and 2,624 have died because of the pandemic.

Asked what age groups were more vulnerable, Dr Vohra said what was surprising was the 45 to 65 age group was “actually having more fatalities than the 65 to 75 age group.”

The biggest challenge is for the patients that have normal vital signs and they don’t look ill but they feel terrible and cannot be admitted to the hospital because at this time we do not have space,” Vohra said.

We feel terrible sending people (patients) home feeling terrible,” he added.

Dan Lynch, Fresno County emergency medical services coordinator, said that the hospitals have added additional refrigerated morgue trailers since they have run out of capacity.

Each trailer holds 50 bodies.

Till early morning on Thursday, December 23, the United States had clocked more than 18 million (18,466,908) confirmed coronavirus cases and 326,217 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 dashboard.

America is the worst-hit country in the novel coronavirus pandemic, followed by India.

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