San Joaquin Valley sees dramatic drop in ICU availability Saturday

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- ICU availability is dropping dangerously low in the Central Valley as capacity hits 0% in the San Joaquin Region.

"We have been working throughout the whole year to prevent exactly this, overwhelming our hospitals and unfortunately, here we are," says Carrie Monteiro with Tulare County Health and Human Services.

The South Valley is one of the hardest impacted by the coronavirus. As of Saturday, only eight beds were available in all of Tulare County.

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Neighboring Kings County has none.

Monteiro says in some cases, hospital staff are converting their NICU's into adult ICU beds.

"Those are some of the tough decisions hospitals are facing as they get overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients," she said.

Fresno County hospitals are facing similar challenges -- especially when it comes to staffing.

Earlier this week, the Fresno City council declared a state of emergency after running out of ICU beds.

"Those numbers are not going to let up," says Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria. "This virus is unrelenting."

But hope is on the horizon. Starting Monday, the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine will make their way to California.

RELATED: US says Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to start arriving in states Monday

By mid next week, 636 locations in the state, including Fresno and Tulare Counties, will have doses of the vaccine.

But not everyone will get it.

The first round will go to medical staff working on the front lines and the most vulnerable populations such as seniors.

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"We won't have the vaccine before Christmas for everyone to take and it will be time before everyone will have access to a vaccine," Soria said.
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