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ICU hospitalizations due to COVID-19 may exceed Kern County bed capacity as soon as July, new model shows

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Intensive Care Unit hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are expected to exceed bed capacity in Kern County hospitals as soon as July, a new state model shows.

During a news briefing this morning, Public Health Director Matt Constantine said the county is participating in a new model the state has come out with that allows the department to put in local variables such as population, hospitalization rates and ICU rates.

“We can start to look at what actions we need to take to take to ensure our healthcare system remains strong and active,” Constantine said. 

According to the model, the county’s 78 ICU beds would reach capacity by the end of July. Even if the county was able to increase the number of ICU beds to 294 as part of a surge plan, the model estimates that hospitalizations will surpass that surge capacity in November. 

The model predicts that the county wouldn’t see a peak in ICU hospitalizations until February 2021, when it could reach 436 hospitalizations. However, Constantine said this model is based on current conditions and that the prediction could change. 

“It’s important to understand that this is a model. It allows us to use this information so we can make some plans for what we need to do to make sure we’re safe,” he said. “The model shows that we need to do more. We need to continue to flatten that curve so that we have the ability to care for everybody that we may need to put in an ICU bed.”

Constantine said given the model’s results, county residents need to stay vigilant and continue social distancing, frequently wash their hands and wearing face coverings when going out.

Kern Medical Center CEO Russell Judd said local hospitals are preparing for an increase in COVID-19 patients, such as securing additional ventilators, supplies, training additional staff, sharing resources amongst each other and more.

“The hospitals are putting forth an immense amount of effort as we face this challenge,” he said. “Have confidence to know that we are giving it our very best, that we’re here. We will provide the services that are needed for our community.”

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