‘Its right on our doorstep’: Ventura County faces largest COVID-19 surge yet as first batch of vaccinations are delivered


Image Provided by the CDC

By Ryan Bough

Ventura County has seen a new surge in COVID-19 cases across the county over the weekend. In just three days there has been an increase of 2,651 cases reported.

Public Health Officer, Dr. Robert Levin spoke about the new surge on Monday’s COVID-19 Press conference.

“These are troubling times from a hospital’s perspective. If a hospital was a car, it would be rattling right now. The numbers are getting to be astronomical,” said Levin. “People are going to die, who don’t need to die.”

Three weeks ago the Monday number, which is the number from Friday to Sunday, was just 339.

Levin stated that Ventura County is on a surge that makes the previous surges look small in comparison. According to Levin, one out of every ten COVID-19 tests come back positive.

As of Dec. 14, 204 COVID-19 cases are hospitalized and 49 are in the ICU. This leaves the county with just 1.4% ICU capacity left. Levin noted that the 1.4% could be as little as one more patient to completely fill up the ICU beds in the county.

Levin then moved to speak about the nationwide death count. It was reported that over 300,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 virus.

Levin drew comparisons to the Vietnam War American casualties.

“There were 58,300 American soldiers that died in Vietnam. We’ve seen five times as many people die from COVID as we lost soldiers in Vietnam.” said Levin who also drew comparisons to World War 2. “There were 407,000 American soldiers that died in all of World War 2 over a period of about four years. We are losing Americans to COVID-19 at 3 and a half times that rate right now in the United States.”

There is a light at the end of the tunnel as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been shipped across the United States. The first batch of vaccines arrived in California on Sunday night, an estimated 33,000 doses, that will go to front-line workers and health care workers.

California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke about the new vaccination but was still mindful of the current surge that California is seeing in COVID-19 cases.

“Today, we received as many doses in the entire state of California as there were new cases in the state of California, over 33,000 new cases,” Newsom said.

California has reported over 1.6 million COVID cases since the start of the pandemic. According to Levin, the COVID-19 vaccination will be arriving in Ventura County on Tuesday, Dec. 15. The vaccination will be distributed to hospitals throughout the week.

Barry Zimmerman, chief deputy director of the Health Care Agency, spoke about testing capacity and supplies in Ventura County.

“We have limited resources to test individuals and we want to target those most at risk and those who are displaying symptoms of the virus,” stated Zimmerman. “Because of the high demand we have had some consequences with our testing that have limited our ability to operate fully.”

Five weeks ago there were 7,000 tests a week. In the last four weeks, there have been over 20,000 tests a week. Demand for testing has increased dramatically, not just in Ventura County, but the nation as a whole. Zimmerman mentioned that the supply chain has been affected from COVID-19 testing supplies.

“We are not isolated from the demands of the supply chain cycle and the demands on the laboratories that occurred due to the surge, so we have felt those impacts of that,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman expects the county to experience more supply chain issues as the surge continues.

On Dec. 14, both the Moorpark and Oxnard College testing site had to close due to lack of supplies. To see the status of testing sites Zimmerman recommends residents visit the Ventura County recovers website under the testing location tab.

Due to the large number of tests and strain on the laboratories, Zimmerman said that test results may take longer to get back. Results may take longer than 24 hours during the surge and Zimmerman advises residents not to rely on the result coming back within a day.

For more information about Ventura County’s COVID-19 updates, visit https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/.