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.
California’s entire health care system is now bracing for the worst. More than 94% of the state’s population (41 of 58 counties) is in the purple tier – the most restrictive for business operations and gatherings.
Hospitals are also preparing, as critical resources such as PPE, testing supplies, and health care personnel are growing even more scarce. Health care workers, in particular, are strained by burnout, illness, home demands, and more, and while traveling nurses were once a potential pool to bolster the ranks, surges in states across the country mean far fewer are available.
In response, we’ve been working this week with California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly to create the best possible environment for hospitals to respond to a surge whose proportions could be far worse than anything we’ve experienced thus far. Earlier this month, CHA submitted a list of hospitals’ most pressing needs to the California Health and Human Services Agency, including, among other requests:
- Using the Medical Health Operational Area Coordinators to coordinate patient movement if transfers are needed instead of the state’s All-Access Transfer Center, which has created much confusion
- Reinstating the statewide nurse staffing ratio waiver that was in effect between March and June of this year
- Prioritizing hospitalized patients for testing and postponing California Department of Public Health draft guidance recommending weekly testing of asymptomatic, non-exposed hospital health care personnel
- Providing transparency on what is available in the state stockpile, and why resource requests have been denied or only partially filled
We expect to have many of these issues and more sorted through in the coming days, as time is limited to prepare with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us and family gatherings likely to drive COVID-19 spread even further.
As soon as there is resolution on these, we will keep you informed via our Coronavirus Response newsletter. As always, you can check the latest information at our website, OurCOVIDResponse.org.
If you have any questions or would like to share your perspective from your hospital, your city, or your county, please reach out to me directly at [email protected].