There are areas in California that continue to be overwhelmed by COVID-19, even as the state as a whole continues to see some of the lowest case rates in the United States.
The Guardian reported Wednesday about the shocking scene at the Community Regional medical center in the Central Valley, where "patients are lined up outside on ambulance gurneys, because there are no hospital beds available," said Dr. Kenny Banh. Once you're inside the hospital, the hallways are filled with patients on gurneys.
At Roseville medical center in northern California, an ER nurse described it as being like the line at Disneyland with people stretched outside and around the corner, waiting to sign into the check-in desk.
"I'm exhausted and just disappointed that we're here," said Banh, who also teaches emergency medicine at UCSF Fresno. He's been taking extra shifts in the ER and ICU while also managing vaccine clinics and testing centers. He explained that all of it "was preventable," but there are still people who refuse to believe they have COVID-19 or even that it's real, even after they are on ventilators. COVID doesn't need one to believe it in it to kill them.
The overwhelming majority of patients dying are unvaccinated or immunocompromised, he said.
In Tehama County, for example, they're suffering from the top infections in the entire pandemic, with cases surging much higher than 2020.
Data compiled by the New York Times
It was just weeks ago, in mid-September that Fresno hospitals revealed that they'd have to start rationing care.
"The largest hospital systems that we have here in the county are telling us that they are over 100% of their normal capacity, and some of them are as high as 140%, which is really pushing the surge standards and really almost tipping us into what we call the 'crisis standards of care,'" said Fresno County's interim health officer.
The California recall came largely from those opposing Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D-CA) lockdowns, mask mandates and other COVID precautions. Some analysts think that the Delta variant killing so many people turned miffed voters into believers. But after the election, a map circulated showing the striking comparison between COVID-19 hotspots and those who supported the recall.
Hmmm 🤔 California Covid heat map vs Gavin Newsom recall results by county. Whatever could this mean? https://t.co/7MPreYKu1U— Ivarr Rune (@Ivarr Rune) 1631728777.0
"The San Joaquin Valley has California's worst per capita rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 38 COVID-19 hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents, according to a Times analysis," reported the Los Angeles Times.
Ambulances have started rationing rides to hospitals, the report explained. They can only pick up patients who meet certain criteria.
"We've never had anything like that before," said Dr. Danielle Campagne, who directs the medical side of American Ambulance in Fresno County.
When stay-at-home orders were lifted, people went back to their everyday lives. She explained that there was an influx of patients during the early days of the COVID surge, but because people were staying home, there weren't car accidents or shootings to compete for ER beds.
"During the previous Covid surges, there were a lot of infections, but there weren't as many car accidents or shootings," Campagne said. "Now that people are going back to their everyday business, they're getting in car accidents, they're getting shot, they're getting heart attacks – so we're treating all of those people as well as Covid patients."
In Mississippi, there was similarly a massive influx of COVID patients. At one point, it was so bad that hospital beds were becoming available because people were dying so quickly. Unlike, California, however, things are changing, Dr. Ijlal Babar told MSNBC in an interview. He explained that he was hearing people say "I'd rather die than get vaccinated" and "I'll never get vaccinated." He doesn't hear that as much anymore. He thinks it is because so many people now know someone who got incredibly sick from COVID and will spend the rest of their lives suffering from the impact it had on their health.
That doesn't appear to be happening in California, however. To add to the problem, they're losing doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and administrative coordinators, The Guardian said. Nurses are working overtime to make up for colleagues who contracted COVID and have to quarantine.
"We're experiencing burnout and also moral distress – because when we don't have the resources and staff we need, patients aren't getting the care they need," said Kaiser hospital nurse Rachel Spray, in Fresno.
"Your heart gets pounded by death after death after death," said ICU nurse Mary Lynn Briggs, an ICU nurse in Bakersfield. The preventable deaths have left her wondering if she can go on much longer before her retirement, in six months. "At the end of my shift, I just want to be able to go into an office and burst into tears."
'Patients are lined up outside on ambulance gurneys' in CA towns that can't stop COVID spread youtu.be