SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As coronavirus cases continue to rise in San Diego County, hospitalizations are up, too, and health care professionals from the region's hospitals are getting worried.
Ana Wilkinson, a UC San Diego Medical Center emergency room nurse, said emergency rooms are swamped and the numbers are swelling by the day.
“People are waiting in the ER to just find a bed upstairs at least a couple days. That's how packed we are,” she said.
On Wednesday, she pulled herself away from patients, to deliver a message:
“We're very much trying to tell the public to just wear a mask. And we're doing our best to wear our PPE."
Nothing could have prepared Wilkinson more than the epicenter of the pandemic. In April, she flew across the country to volunteer at a hospital in New York City.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in New York and I’m hoping I don't see that here in California. Have I seen it here? Not yet, but is it possible, yes,” she said.
Doctors said part of the dilemma is that patients are unaware they may be infected. They said a small percentage of those coming in have pre-existing conditions, but the rest are still transmitting.
“So the other 70 something [percent] are out in the public,” said Dr. Francesca Torriani, medical director of the UC San Diego Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology.
As of Wednesday, San Diego County reported about 1,800 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“We're very concerned about the trajectory of this pandemic,” Patty Maysent, CEO of the UC San Diego Health System.
Maysent said she spoke as a representative of all the hospitals in the region in saying.
“We have gotten unbelievable notes about the care. The most important thing you can do is to mask, to socially distance, to follow the policies,” she said.
Many people following the rules are also refocusing on the front lines.
“Every night at 8 o’clock during the quarantine we would go onto our balcony and had our pots and pans,” said Courtney Rangel, a San Diego teacher who coordinated the nightly show of gratitude for health care workers in Little Italy.
Rangel said attitudes shifted when cities began reopening, but she plans to get loud again.
“Really focus on the things that were important and appreciating the health care professionals is one of those things,” she said.