Air Force crews on the way to Central Valley to help fight COVID-19 surge

ICU beds are already stretched thin, and ER care has slowed down because of the surge in cases.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Christmas holiday weekend is behind us and now the state is preparing for a wave of Christmas coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

ICU beds are already stretched thin, and ER care has slowed down because of the surge.

"Routine emergency care work is being slowed down. The impact of this virus is being felt on the entire hospital system," Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday.

In the San Joaquin region, the ICU capacity remains at 0%.

Hospital hallways have been converted to patient care areas.

Paramedics are seeing back-to-back calls, and often need to keep patients in their vans outside the hospital until a bed becomes available.

Edgar Escobedo with American Ambulance said their units sometimes have to wait 2 to 3 hours.

He said they're training new responders quickly to meet the demand.

They've also placed EMTs inside the ER to help care for the flood of patents.

"Our paramedics will turn those patients over to our EMT's internally who have beds in a hallway or another room," Escobedo said.

Alternative care sites across the Valley are being utilized to help make space at hospitals.

The Porterville location has at least 10 patients, while the Fresno location at CRMC building has 20 patients.

To help with staffing, Air Force medical teams are flying in.

Some arrived over the weekend and the remaining team will be at CRMC by Wednesday.

Newsom expects to extend the stay-at-home order, but the official word will come from state health officials Tuesday afternoon.
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