In January California had its first coronavirus cases and the virus started spreading undetected in other states. By February the CDC was warning people to prepare.
“Disruption to everyday life may be severe,” warned Dr. Nancy Messonier, Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Then in early March Riverside County started seeing community spread and the first two deaths in the county happened in the Coachella Valley.
“I turned to the nurse in the hall and said, ‘She doesn’t know we’re here’,” said the daughter of one of the first confirmed coronavirus deaths in the in our county, who we interviewed in March. She did not want to be identified.
That same month, Dr. Richard Loftus, a local doctor, warned of the consequences of not following strict CDC guidelines, “If we do business as usual the hospitals will get overwhelmed in a matter of a couple of weeks.”
Chief Medical Officer with Eisenhower Health, Dr. Alan Williamson says local hospitals are now seeing those early predictions materialize, “We’re basically following the curve of what was predicted.”
Our local hospitals are treating a record number of coronavirus patients. Eisenhower Health, Desert Regional and JFK Memorial are caring for 165 COVID patients and 35 of those are in ICU. While they says they are not at capacity as their surge plans are working and are still able treat all illness and emergencies, COVID is testing capacity and staff.
“There’s no question that all of the hospitals here in the valley are definitely being stressed to the breaking point, this is an exhausting job to have to continue to do day after day week after week,” adding that most crisis situations are temporary and other area hospitals are able to support each other, but all hospitals are in the same situation and this crisis has lasted months and it’s unknown how long it will last.
At this rate of hospitalizations, critical drugs to treat COVID, like Remdesivir are in short supply and may become more difficult to source.
“We do have enough to take care of the patients we’re treating today with that but we are facing shortages and it’s very likely in the near future we’ll have to begin really studying who is likely to benefit from that medication because I don’t think we’ll have enough clearly to treat every single patient,” says Williamson.
Williamson says we can all do something everyday to stop the most dire predictions from happening, “The next couple of weeks that are going to be very critical for us that we see hopefully a beginning of a flattening of this curve.”
Hospital officials also urge anyone having a medical emergency calls 911 and gets to the hospital immediately to avoid permanent damage or death.
According to the CDC’s website if you or someone is showing the following signs you should seek emergency medical attention immediately with COVID-19:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
To get free coronavirus testing click here: RIVERSIDE COUNTY TESTING
Appointments can be made for any of the County of Riverside testing sites by calling (800) 945-6171.
Appointments for the State of California testing sites can be
made online at https://lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123.