Remaining ICU bed capacity in the Southern California region, which includes San Diego County, fell to 1.7% on Tuesday, down from 2.7% on Monday.
"We still have a little bit of space but our ICU nurses are overflowing with patients," said registered nurse Andrea Muir.
Due to the growing amount of ICU patients, nurses now have to care for more people at the same time. On Tuesday the state announced they decreased its mandatory nurse-to-patient ratio, going from one nurse for every two ICU patients to one nurse for every three.
"Nurses that I'm acquainted with are so tired. We have education fatigue and on top of it, physical, mental and emotional fatigue from actually doing this work inside the hospital," said Muir.
Muir explained how the biggest hurdle inside hospitals is the overflowing patients with not enough ICU nurses to treat them.
"We can put up endless tents in the parking lot, we can move other patients out to different areas so that we can have more room for ICU level patients," said Muir. "But, you cannot simply train a nurse or any other health care worker for a couple of days and then stick them in an ICU."
Hospitals in Imperial County and across Southern California have set up tents outside, adding more space to take in patients and also adding extra room for an overflow of COVID-19 cases.
"It's still debilitating. People who get sick, even if they survive it, they're not OK magically," said Muir. "They still need help, they still need care and they still have to be in the hospital for a long time being away from their families."
Many are now referencing the COVID-19 vaccine as the light at the end of the pandemic. Despite vaccines rolling out across San Diego County and being administered to healthcare workers, Muir urges people to continue to wear masks and keep a safe distance.
"Because if you are already sick with the virus a vaccine won't save you," said Muir.