STOCKTON (CBS13) — With another surge of coronavirus cases in San Joaquin County, hospitals continue to fill up quickly. The county reported Tuesday their ICU capacities were at 138% while total hospital capacity is at 79%.

But what does that number mean? CBS13 spoke to Marissa Matta with the County Office of Emergency Health Services about the numbers. She said county hospitals are expanding where they can.

“What that means is we’re having to put patients in ICU beds that weren’t necessarily made for ICU patients,” Matta said.

The county normally has 99 licensed ICU beds but has had to continue to add more. San Joaquin County now has 137 ICU beds, as hospitals transition beds not typically used for this purpose.

Hospitals like St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton are feeling the signs of the surge. They’ve added nearly 50 new ICU beds for patients. As of Tuesday, half of them are already full.

READ: San Joaquin County ICU Beds At 132 Percent Capacity, Hospital Beds At 76 Percent Capacity

In many cases, there are not enough staff members to help in these hospitals. St. Joseph’s said many of their staff members are getting sick with the virus from community spread.

“We can have as many as 30 or 40 people at any given time – either with symptoms and testing negative, or with testing positive,” said Donald Wiley, president of St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

Hospitals like Lodi Memorial Hospital are seeing this as well. Last month, they closed their doors to non-COVID patients for a few days as staff members continued to contract the virus. Federal medical teams are now on their campus helping out, as told in a statement to CBS13.

That statement reads in part:

“Adventist Health Lodi Memorial is welcoming a clinical team from the Department of Defense to provide additional capacity to support our team caring for our COVID-19 patients. The Department of Defense Medical Teams comprise clinical professionals – doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists – who will offer additional resources during the surge. They will also offer reinforcements for our medical professionals who have been on the front lines serving patients throughout our COVID-19 response. Together, we are all playing an important role to address COVID-19.”

This surge in hospital cases, President Wiley with St. Joseph’s says, is because people are relaxed on precautionary guidelines issued by health experts.

“There hasn’t been enough of that practiced long enough, to actually keep the virus from spreading as fast as it has been spreading,” Wiley said. “The community needs to actually listen to our public health officer and the experts – to wear a mask. It’s not a political issue.”

County and hospital officials all encourage anyone who needs to seek medical treatment to do so, as they say they still have room to help.

Heather Janssen

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