RED BLUFF, Calif. - In Tehama County half of all available ventilators are in use, 30 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized and all ICU beds are full. The county also reported eight new deaths from COVID today.
"Our ICU is full of COVID patients,” said Randy Pennebaker, senior director of operations at St. Elizabeth's Community Hospital.
Pennebaker told Action News Now that the ICU beds at St. Elizabeth’s have been at full capacity for the past two months.
"Folks are able to get out in the community now, and that would lend itself to higher transmission rates,” Pennebaker told Action News Now.
That paired with the delta variant has Arlene Odell, who just moved to the area from Sacramento, nervous.
"It scares me for people who just have regular issues. If they have a heart attack where are they going to go if the ICU beds are full?" Odell said.
Now, north state hospitals are seeing sicker and younger patients.
"I have a one-year-old granddaughter and that scares me because she can't be vaccinated yet because it's not available to babies,” said Odell. “There are people who just don't care."
Odell has been trying to play it safe since she moved here. Aside from her weekly grocery shopping trip and keeping her distance while at work, she tries to stay at home as much as possible.
"Literally not one single human has walked into our house since COVID started,” Odell told Action News Now.
Not only is this the highest surge of COVID cases in the ICU St. Elizabeth's has seen so far, but they are also hitting historic highs in all hospitalizations.
"That would include COVID and non-COVID,” said Pennebaker. “I have seen historically high numbers that I don't think anyone here has ever seen."
The hospital is engaging local, county, regional and state resources to have enough staff to meet the demand.
"It does not appear that the current surge would be ending any time before the middle of October or end of October,” Pennebaker said.
Pennebaker said getting vaccinated is the best thing people can do to stay safe.
"If you don't care about yourself, at least care about your fellow humans,” Odell told Actions News Now.
For people who want to or need to get tested, the hospital is urging them to go to Walgreens or CVS, not the emergency room.
St. Elizabeth's does transfer patients to other facilities if necessary, and is also making adjustments within the hospital. They are holding ICU patients in the emergency department and med surge patients in the day surgery units.