LODI (CBS13) — San Joaquin County leaders are sounding the alarm as hospital staff and bed space are pushed to the limit.

ICU units across the county are operating at 121% capacity, according to data from the County EMS office. More than half of the patients needing help have coronavirus.

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“We have the beds but we don’t have the staff to work those beds. So that’s really the main goal right now, is staffing,” said Marissa Matta, an EMS specialist with San Joaquin County.

Hospital ICUs across the county are taking on about 20% more patients than they’re designed to handle.

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“I think people hear that and see the numbers and it really prevents people who are scared from seeking medical attention,” Matta said.

CBS13 talked with UCLA epidemiologist Doctor Jeffrey Klausner about how this might impact the communities San Joaquin County hospitals serve.

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“If someone needs ICU care in that hospital they can still get it and they’ll probably be stabilized, but they won’t take any hospital transfers or they may have to divert ambulances going to the emergency room with a patient who likely needs ICU care,” Dr. Klausner said.

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A federal medical unit made of 20 nurses, physicians and more deployed to Lodi Memorial Hospital Wednesday. The head of County EMS said the extra staff is expected to increase capacity by 15%.

But according to County Supervisor Katherine Miller, “despite this ‘safety valve’ we remain concerned about maintaining adequate capacity in our healthcare system.”

This prompts a plea from doctors: social distance, wear your mask and if you have COVID symptoms, see a doctor early

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“Now we have therapies that can actually be implemented to prevent the need for an ICU,” Dr. Klausner said.