‘We Are Concerned': COVID-19 Cases Overwhelm SF General Hospital's ICU, Staff

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A week ago, the Bay Area's COVID-19 intensive care unit bed availability plunged to less than 8%. On Monday, it was less than 1% and dropping.

San Francisco General Hospital's top emergency doctor said he's never seen the situation this bad. COVID-19 cases are overwhelming both the ICU and hospital staff and forcing them to find new places for all the patients.

As of Monday, there were 63 COVID-19 beds taken at the hospital and 11 of those patients were in intensive care.

"The numbers have never been higher," San Francisco General Hospital Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Christopher Colwell said. "We’ve never had more patients in the hospital fighting COVID than we have right now."

Colwell said nearly every COVID-19 bed is full and computer modeling suggests the worst is yet to come, probably by the weekend, with those infected over the new year starting to get seriously sick.

"We are concerned, and the modeling is raising that concern, realizing that that impact is still coming and that impact is probably going to be very significant," Colwell said.

Colwell said he hopes people behaved better over the holidays than computer models anticipate.

He did say vaccinations are raising the spirits of the employees who treat COVID-19 patients. About 98% of the medical staff have now received at least the first of two vaccine doses, but Colwell is asking everyone to be vigilant with masking and social distancing.

"As much as there is light at the end of the tunnel, it is way too early to let our guard down," he said.

The hospital is not turning away any local COVID-19 patients, but the latest surge has caused it to stop accepting overflow from other hospitals.

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