1,450 new COVID-19 cases as hospitals fill up in Santa Clara County
Testing takes place at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds. File photo.

    Santa Clara County saw 1,450 new COVID-19 cases over the past few days and hospital beds filled up as health officials announced a vaccine could be arriving next week.

    “We are clearly seeing increased levels of transmission in our community, and we know from historic data that about 10% of individuals diagnosed with COVID will need hospitalization.” said Dr. Ahmad Kamal, the county’s COVID-19 Director of Health Care Preparedness.

    Kamal said as of Dec. 7 only 50 intensive care beds are available and the surge is stretching hospitals thin.

    “That’s 50 beds for a county of 2 million people,” Kamal said. “And not just for COVID, but to care for everyone who needs care in a hospital.”

    Local hospitals admitted 62 new patients for COVID-19 on Dec. 6, he said, and health officials expect that number to rise to more than 100 new hospitalizations soon.

    There are 333 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Santa Clara County with 82 of them in intensive care, officials said.

    The hospitalizations come as Santa Clara County enters its first day of a regional stay-at-home order that increased restrictions and shut down many businesses.

    The county has tallied 40,624 COVID-19 cases and 511 deaths as of Dec. 7.

    County Testing Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said about 17,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine may arrive by Dec. 15.

    Healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are first in line to receive the vaccine, Fenstersheib said.

    But doses will be in short supply.

    “We certainly will not get enough vaccines for both of those large groups,” Fenstersheib said. “But this is the first location and we expect subsequent locations over the next several weeks. The hospitals are preparing and have prepared to receive this vaccine.”

    The FDA is expected to decide on approving the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 10 and the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 17, Fenstersheib said.

    County health officials submitted their vaccine plan for storage and distribution to California last week. The plan details the data and outreach system health officials will use to ensure people receive double doses of whichever vaccine is made available.

    The Pfizer vaccine requires a booster dose three weeks after people receive their first shot and Moderna requires a second injection four weeks after the first one.

    People who receive the vaccine will set up appointments with an online program known as PrepMod, according to the plans.

    The county will not diverge from the priority groups outlined by federal and state leaders, Fenstersheib said, and people should continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

    “As we start to give vaccinations that does not mean that we should not be as diligent and vigilant about our prevention measures,” Fenstersheib said. “We want to make sure people remain vigilant, keep their masks on, keep all of the social distancing guidances that we have said.”

    Contact Mauricio La Plante at [email protected] or follow @mslaplantenews on Twitter.

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