Ventura County seeing surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations as vaccination efforts ramp up

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- For a long time, Ventura County reported some of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Southern California. Now, like just about everywhere else in the state, cases and hospitalizations there are skyrocketing.

County public health officials on Wednesday reported 1,563 new cases and over 400 individuals hospitalized, 83 of which are in intensive care.

According to figures from the state Department of Public Health, the positive testing rate per 100,000 county residents nearly doubled from 71 to over 130 within a week's time.

Ventura County hospitals adding storage space for bodies as COVID deaths climb
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Hospitals in Ventura County are having to add more storage space for bodies as coronavirus deaths and cases climb across the region.

County public health officials are now dealing with the surge in cases and hospitalizations following the holidays that they had warned about, including a strain on available hospital beds.

"The sustained surge that we're experiencing has put tremendous pressure on our hospitals. We are full. When I walked into my shift yesterday, more than half of our emergency department beds were occupied by patients who needed a hospital bed but were waiting for space to open up," said Dr. Rick Rutherford with the Ventura County Medical Center.

While first responders continue to take care of the sick, they're also getting vaccinated at three sites in Ventura County that are now up and running.

The county is working with some Ralphs and Vons locations to get their pharmacies ready to administer the vaccine.

Officials are also asking the state for more doses to get frontline workers vaccinated as quickly as possible. Some 15,000 workers have already received it, but the county hopes to get around 15,000 more vaccinated in the next few weeks.
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