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Coronavirus Surge: Zuckerberg SF General At 'Level Red' As COVID Patient Numbers Reach Record Levels

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Fewer than one percent of ICU beds are available across the Bay Area and health officials fear we haven't seen the full effects from the holiday surge.

As of Monday night, 63 COVID-19 patients are inside Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, 13 of those in the critical care unit.

"This is our third surge, these are the highest numbers we've seen since the beginning of the pandemic," said Dr. Lukejohn Day, Chief Medical Officer for Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

These new numbers have pushed the hospital to 'surge level red,' meaning PACUs, those recovery rooms you go into post-surgery while coming out of anesthesia, are now COVID wards.

The problem is that COVID-19 patients are typically hospitalized for a long time, filling up capacity.

"If a patient is ventilated, they stay on average of two to three weeks, if a patient is admitted to the floor - we see them stay on average about 7 to 10 days," Dr. Day said.

At the moment, ZSFGH cannot accept any out of county patients, while they deal with what they hope is the final surge.

"We're prepared at a surge level red, we have even a higher level, maroon, that we could actually go to in terms of space and capacity if we needed to," said Dr. Day.

As of Monday, 98 percent of the staff at ZSFGH has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital will begin injecting patients with the vaccine this week.

UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford says the vaccine expansion is a promising sign.

"I think we have to ramp up a bit more but it's all going in the right direction," he said.

Dr. Day says the next few weeks and months will be tough, but diligence to mask wearing and social distancing will push us through the finish line.

"I am incredibly hopeful," said Day. When we administered the first vaccine, I had never seen so many people cry and celebrate in a room, just because they saw it as a turning point, right now is hard, but I know we'll get through it."

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