SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Healthcare workers in Santa Clara County are worried that a post-holiday surge in COVID cases could be what pushes their healthcare facility to a breaking point.

“The ER is full. Folks are waiting for beds. We are getting really creative on folks waiting to see patients and patients are suffering,” Dr. Jeffrey Chien, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Emergency Department, said. 

For months, Santa Clara County healthcare workers have been warning about COVID-19 surges.

Area hospitals are coming out of the Thanksgiving surge and concerned about what might be coming in a few weeks out of Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.

“Right now we haven’t been in a situation where there are two people gasping for breath and only one of them gets a ventilator – we could get there,” Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 Director of Health Care Preparedness, said. 

Santa Clara County residents are even being told not to call 911 except in the direst emergency.

“We want to be able to have ambulances available in our system to handle every life-threatening emergency,” Daniel Franklin, EMS Duty Chief for Santa Clara County, said. 

County health officials say more than 1000 COVID cases and more than 100 of them are admitted to the hospital – every day – waiting for emergency rooms.

“We’ve seen wait times anywhere between an additional 30 minutes where we even had a case during the month of December which it took 8 hours to offload one patient,” Franklin said. 

South Bay healthcare workers have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and will soon get their second shot.

While the vaccines have created hope on the horizon, there’s still not enough to go around for the masses.

“COVID is no joke. Folks are struggling to breathe. Folks are gasping for breath. Some folks look like they are drowning while they are sitting there in bed in front of us and there’s a very finite amount that we can do to fight this new virus,” Dr. Chien said. 

Dr. Jeffrey Chien, head of the Valley Medical Center ER, and his colleagues continuing to plead with people to avoid social gatherings outside of their immediate households and wear masks to not only to protect yourselves but to protect everyone around you.

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