San Diego County COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise As Some Hospitals Near Capacity

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San Diego County COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising, with the number of available beds dwindling, and the latest county data shows that San Diego is close to hitting two more hospital-capacity triggers.

More than 400 San Diego County residents are hospitalized for COVID-19 for the first time since March 4, according to data from the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties

Sharp Chula Vista's medical director of emergency services, Dr. Andres Smith, said the hospital is close to full capacity, meaning that there are few available beds for prospective patients.

"We prepare for the worst, and we do have special sections in the hospital that are COVID [units], like we did in the past," Smith said on Tuesday.

The hospital's numbers stand in stark contrast to a few months ago, when NBC 7 was invited inside to show how its COVID-19 Unit was ready to be decommissioned.

"In the medical community, we're tired, you know, and it's a little bit of a challenge for us because we're put at risk during this pandemic, and there is a solution which is the vaccine, and when we get folks that don't get vaccinated and come in with COVID symptoms, it's hard on us," Smith said.

Doctors are encouraging vaccination to prevent hospitalizations in the first place. The latest county data shows that, since March 1, 98% of the 1,000-plus San Diegans hospitalized due to COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated.

"The vaccine works," Smith said. "It's going to make people not get sick. Yes, there's a risk of you getting COVID, but the symptoms are going to be mild. You're not going to end up on a ventilator, and the risk of dying is very, very minimal in comparison to not taking the vaccine."

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