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Hospitals Brace For Peaks In COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – State public health officials say COVID-19 cases may peak next month.

Ahead of the surge, the governor wants to bring in additional medical workers to help alleviate the strain.

Hospitals are already packed with patients and experts say the peak is yet to come.

"The concern is we will have more patients than we have beds and staff to take care of," said Dr. Aimee Sisson, the Yolo County public health officer.

Emergency departments are now seeing an influx of people. Mostly, hospitals say people are seeking COVID-19 tests or have mild symptoms of the virus.

At UC Davis Health, its emergency doors are flooded.

"What makes it hard is the waiting times," said Dr. Sarah Medeiros, UC Davis Health. "So, sometimes we have people in the waiting room for hours and we have to triage people based on who is the sickest."

The message from healthcare workers is unless it's a serious case of COVID-19, don't come.

Dr. Medeiros also says people have a good chance of catching the virus if they're waiting for hours in the emergency department.

Tuesday's data shows hospitalizations are rising while the availability of ICU beds is declining. The state saw a nearly seven percent increase of patients while there is 1,601 ICU beds available.

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said, "It's going to put tremendous strain on our hospital system."

He's planning to bring in reinforcement by hiring more medical workers, but from where? The Governor's Office told CBS13 it plans to contract traveling medical professionals but didn't say how many.

The dire reality: there may be no cavalry to call. Unlike in 2020, states could send staff to regional surges but that may not be the case this time around with critical staff shortages being felt everywhere.

"I described this as essentially as a sports team and there is no second string sitting on the bench waiting to come in," said Dr. Sisson.

As an option, the state is allowing asymptomatic healthcare workers to go to work under certain conditions.

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