The often-shared parable of the frog that is boiled over time because it fails to recognize that the temperature of the water it is in is slowly rising could well be an appropriate metaphor for COVID-19’s arc in California.
As California approaches 1 million COVID-19 vaccines administered, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the more efficient our process for mass vaccination, the sooner our state can begin to climb out of the pandemic slog we’ve been in for nearly a year.
While we all are grateful to leave 2020 behind us, the first several months of the new year will not provide any respite from the relentless spread of COVID-19, especially in these early weeks as the holiday gatherings transform into mass hospitalizations throughout California.
The projections are frightening. As many as 15,000 new COVID-19 patients could need hospital care by the middle of this month, and the cases will continue to climb through late February before things might begin to level off.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
If you pause for the briefest of moments to reflect on the past 12 months, it’s both emotionally overwhelming and deeply inspiring.
There is no way to sugarcoat this, nor should we: California’s hospitals are in the middle of a full-blown crisis.
COVID-19 cases are hitting new heights every day (more than 50,000 on Wednesday), hospitalizations for COVID-19 this week topped 16,000, and ICU capacity is rapidly dwindling (it was less than 2% in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley this week) due to shortfalls of critical care nurses.
The state projects the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals will double in a month’s time.
As the outbreak accelerates even more, due in part to the Thanksgiving holiday (tonight, the greater Sacramento region joins Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley as three of five regions now subject to a regional stay-at-home order), hospitals continue to await much-needed flexibility to ensure they can care not only for the coming surge of COVID-19 patients, but also Californians’ other health needs.
“… good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus
The strong recommendation issued last week by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to regularly test hospital workers for COVID-19 may have been born of good intent: to protect our vital health care workforce and make them feel even safer.
Normally, each year around the Thanksgiving holiday, this space is used to express gratitude for hospital workers who have committed their careers and their lives to helping others – the very stuff hospitals are made of.
It’s an important, sincere message that is too often taken for granted amid the daily grind, and one that I have looked forward to writing for many years.
This year, it feels … for lack of a better word, “inadequate.”
Toward the end of July, the number of positive COVID-19 cases reached a high for the year, topping a little more than 12,000 in a single day. On Nov. 14, there were nearly 11,000 cases, according to the state’s dashboard, with projections for an exponential rise in the coming weeks that could dwarf the summer’s peak (the first week of November alone saw more than a 51% increase in cases in a one-week period).
To date, more than 18,000 Californians have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in California v. Texas, a case that has the potential to strike down parts, or all, of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
It’s encouraging that several key justices signaled they would vote to reject the latest challenge, as upending the ACA would devastate Californians who rely on coverage provided under the law’s umbrella. Among the biggest impacts if the law is negated: