CA directs hospitals to pause non-essential surgeries in regions with no ICU capacity

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The state’s Department of Public Health issued a new health order late Tuesday requiring some non-essential and non-life-threatening surgeries to be delayed in counties impacted by low ICU capacity.

The edict comes as new coronavirus cases and deaths in California are reported at levels not seen during the pandemic, part of an overall effort "to reduce pressure on strained hospital systems and redistribute the responsibility of medical care across the state so patients can continue to receive lifesaving care."

The public health directive applies to "counties with 10% or less of ICU capacity under the Regional Stay at Home Order where the regional ICU capacity is at 0%."

All counties in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions are impacted by the guidelines. Surgeries that may be delayed include carpel tunnel release and non-urgent spine surgeries, while operations for "patients who have serious and urgent medical conditions will continue."

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Bay Area region was listed at 5.9% ICU capacity.

"If we continue to see an alarming increase of COVID-19 patient admissions at hospitals statewide, some facilities may not be able to provide the critical and necessary care Californians need, whether those patients have COVID-19 or another medical condition,” CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón said in a news release.

The order also requires hospitals statewide to accept patient transfers from facilities that have implemented contingency or crisis care guidelines, provided those transfers can be done safely.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 17% in the last two weeks.

ICU admissions related to the virus have gone up 21% during the same period.

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