'Our ICU is full': Bay Area hospitals still under pressure, worried about post-holiday COVID-19 surge

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Surge plans are in place and ready to be activated at Bay Area hospitals, as their ICUs continue to be under immense pressure.

Inside Regional Medical in San Jose, one of the hardest hit hospitals by COVID-19, a troubling trend that shows no signs of getting better.

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"Our ICU is full, we are in overflow settings. The majority are COVID and the majority in ICU settings are on ventilators. We found hallway spaces that we didn't know existed," said Dr. Paul Silka, Director of Emergency Medicine at Regional Medical Center.

Hospitals all over the Bay Area, including Regional Medical, continue to struggle with a shrinking ICU capacity with no end in sight.

Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Director of Healthcare System Preparedness for the County of Santa Clara, said hospitals may seem to be handling the growing number of COVID-19 patients but the consequences for others who need care are dangerously real.

"So hospitals are deferring all but the most emergency surgeries. There are people who have heart conditions, who are not getting surgery right now," he said.

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The Bay Area's stay-at-home order is set to be extended as new COVID-19 cases are rising at a rate higher than ever before.

A piece of good news - the number of new COVID-19 patients has slightly leveled off since the post-Thanksgiving surge. But, public health officials say the real problem is that numbers are not going down.

"Most of the models right now at the current positivity rate suggest that we're going to be in this mode for the next five to six weeks, so that's what we're preparing for," said Dr. Silka.

While hospitals prepare, public health officials hope their stern warning will keep people out of their ICUs in the first place.

"Every individual's decision really impacts what happens to our hospitals," said Dr. Kamal.

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