At Tuesday’s December 8 Inyo County Board of Supervisors virtual meeting, there was a COVID-19 Update on how ICU bed capacity shortages in other counties could affect Inyo County.
Inyo County Health and Human Services went over the state’s new regional stay-at-orders, explaining how it will affect the county’s businesses and residents. Marilyn Mann, the HHS Director, told the County Board of Supervisor that there was an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases in the state with increased hospitalizations and positive test results.
Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2, there was an increase of new cases of 112% across the state and hospital admissions had doubled. Mann told the supervisors that the state projects that by mid-December, ICU bed capacity will be maxed out.
Mann explained that the “The order that was issued (on Dec. 3) was an attempt to try to curb this surge on our hospital system.” The state’s Department of Public Health will track a region’s staffed ICU bed capacity and, if that bed capacity is at 15% or below, the order will be issued. For the Southern Region, which includes Inyo and Mono counties, the Order went into effect December 6 (Sunday) at 11:59PM.
“I know that there’s a lot of controversy,” said Mann, “about the response to COVID-19, but access to ICU beds in our region and statewide is critical for us even if we have all of our ICU beds available locally.”
Patients that require critical care are regularly transferred out of both the Northern Inyo Healthcare District and the Southern Inyo Healthcare District. When it is something they are not equipped to handle.
While the local health care districts often use the Renown Health Hospital Network in Reno, Nevada. According to Mann, that will not be an option as Mann as Reno was reporting that Renown Hospital was treating 34 patients in an overflow alternative care setting in an enclosed garage.” She went on to say that the impact on our hospital system is not just exclusive to the state of California.”
Speaking after Mann, Anna Scott, deputy director of the county’s Health and Human Services Department, noted that there are only 4 ICU beds at Northern Inyo Hospital and none at Southern Inyo Hospital, which severely limits the county’s capacity and ICUs require higher staffing.
It doesn’t help an already strained critical staffing situation if health care workers are exposed to the virus and must be isolated or quarantined.
The Southern California Region was at 13.1% of ICU bed capacity on Dec. 4, dropping to 12.5% on Dec. 5 when the order was issued. Southern California’s collective supply of intensive care unit beds has continued to shrink, falling to 9% by the state’s latest estimates as of Wednesday, Dec. 9, its lowest point yet — a full percentage point decline from one day earlier.
During the third week of the Order, State health officials will be looking at the projected available ICU bed capacity for the following fourth week. If more than 15% of capacity, the Order would be lifted at that time. Once the Regional Order is lifted, the counties in that region will return to the tier status as outlined in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Currently, fifty-four out of 58 counties in California are in the purple tier, which includes both Inyo and Mono counties.