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Central Coast hospitals face record number of COVID-19 patients during Christmas Holiday

A photo shared with KION of the COVID-19 unit at SVMH in July 2020

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) 233 residents of the Central Coast are currently in the hospital due to COVID-19. Hospitalizations have continued to spike since mid-November in the three counties.

Santa Cruz Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci tells KION that area hospitals are nearing disaster type care, which means hospitals could be faced with a decision about who will receive care.

“When you have a higher prevalence of disease in the community, and then you add gathering on top of that," Ghilarducci said. "It makes it much more risky than say gatherings, you may have gotten away with [for example] Fourth of July and nobody got sick.”

Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz said its ICU has reached capacity at times in the recent weeks, but its surge planning added more beds, so no patients have needed to be transferred.

"Should that need arise, we have close collaborations with other health care partners locally to ensure everyone receives the care they need," Dominican Hospital President Nanette Mickiewicz said.

Ghilarducci predicts the next four weeks could be the darkest days of the pandemic, but that can be reversed by not gathering and wearing masks this Christmas holiday.

“I can’t emphasize to the public enough: This is not the season to visit. This is the season to kind of sit back and we've got a vaccine on the horizon, do not get sick. Do not get your parents sick. Do not get your grandparents sick.”

High numbers of COVID patients means less room for other medical emergencies, and hospitals out of the area are experiencing the same level of surge.

“This is about our community being as self reliant as possible," the deputy health officer said. "We’re kind of on our own when it comes to this, so it's a scary time.”

If hospitals reached that disaster care level, Ghilarducci says priority is strictly based on how dire a patients situation is.

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.



  1. Just found out yesterday that COVID19 is in my home. One person in my home just got the positive test results yesterday. So now all 4 of us are quarantined. But I live in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home so each person has their own isolation room, the person that tested positive has the sole use of one bathroom. Everyone wears a mask, even inside the home when outside their designated room. Work has both me and my son on lockdown until 7 January. I called the Monterey County hotline and even though they said someone would return my call within 2 hours, it has been more than 24. I figured there would not be a response from the hospital or the Health Department because it is Christmas. I was right. But that’s OK, my employer is significantly larger than some dime store county operated system designed to make us feel better while doing absolutely nothing, so our employers will be taking the lead tracking this and figuring out who to call or what to do and where to get tested. I am not sweating getting tested until I receive instructions. Either I have it, or I don’t. And if I have, it will either kill me or it won’t.

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