by Kimberly Rivers

On Wednesday, July 8, Ventura County hosted a press conference in front of Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) to discuss the increase in patients with COVID-19 needing acute and intensive care. 

“Our ER unit is full…our intensive care unit is full,” said Dr. Tara Paterson, M.D., director of the ICU at VCMC. “We are using our surge plan today and throughout the next few days.” She emphasized the COVID-19 positive patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are “extremely sick. Those patients who require mechanical ventilation” frequently have “prolonged ICU stays.” She said their care is “very labor intensive and some do not survive their hospital stays.” 

Thirty-one people currently require care in the ICUs of the eight hospitals across the county and  79 people currently are being treated for acute symptoms from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to Rigoberto Vargas, director of Ventura County Public Health (VCPH). He said those numbers are “high…compared to a few weeks ago.” The county reported 125 new cases in one day on Wednesday, with a total of 3,983 county residents testing positive. 

Paterson also reported, “This disease does affect all populations…the young, elderly…and otherwise healthy people. They are becoming very ill. We will continue to do our part for all patients in the hospital. Everybody else needs to do their part as well.”   

“Most of the prevailing wisdom” has been that COVID is “impacting the senior community the most,” said Barry Zimmerman, Chief Deputy Director of Ventura County Health Care Agency. But he reported that 62 percent of those testing positive for coronavirus in Ventura County “are 44 or younger. Of that population, 40 percent are 24 or younger. That is a significant group of young individuals that are…showing positive signs of COVID.” 

County officials emphasized the need for people to wear masks when in public and continue to practice physical distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

“Abide by all guidelines, physically distance, wear face covering when in public…let’s do better,” said Vargas. He reinforced the importance of the public only being with people from their own household when they are eating out or visiting parks or the beach. He linked the efforts to stem the spread of the virus to local public schools being able to fully open in the fall. “This is not the time to congregate.” 

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