"Everyone is feeling mentally and physically exhausted," said Dr. Maria Raven, UCSF's Chief of Emergency Medicine. "We've seen more patients with COVID during the past three weeks to a month than any other time over the past two years."
Raven says ambulance traffic across the city has increased by 20 percent in the past week.
"Every time I'm in the city there are basically ambulance rigs lined up with patients waiting to be triaged," she said.
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As Raven and her team are already pressed thin with eight nurses out sick as of Wednesday, her emergency department faces another challenge--people lining up to get COVID tests.
"We don't have space for them in our emergency room or even in the waiting room," she said.
"How long has that been happening?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.
"For about three to four weeks... because no one can find a rapid test anywhere."
The ABC7 News I-Team confirmed the problem is occurring in hospital systems across every Bay Area county. It's even causing a backlog triaging patients at San Mateo County General Hospital.
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"It's a real problem," said Dr. Shruti Dhapodkar, the county's health emergency preparedness manager.
"Are you finding patients in need of care are having to wait to get help because of this?" Sierra asked.
"Yes, it's taking a longer amount of time," Dhapodkar said. "Delayed, but not significantly, yet."
San Mateo County Health told ABC7 News on average, emergency departments across the county usually care for 500 patients per day, but now that figure is up to 750 patients per day.
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"That's a significant surge for our emergency department," said Dhapodkar. "So, it's a problem when patients that need emergency surgery or emergency care get stuck in the triage line."
COVID tests are tough to come by these days, but there are some sites that do the searching for you. Zoolert tracks inventory of COVID tests online and in stores.