More COVID-19 vaccines on the way to Santa Clara County as cases, deaths spike locally and statewide

Santa Clara County is set to receive an additional 39,300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine later this month from Moderna, if its vaccine receives required Emergency Use Authorization from the federal government, according to a statement provided today by the County. The doses will add to the 17,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine already allocated to the County by the state, and expected to be available by mid-month.

The earliest doses of both vaccines are earmarked for people in the highest risk categories, as defined by the federal government and the state of California – people at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their work in direct health care or long-term care settings, and residents of long-term care facilities.

At the County’s Health and Hospital Committee meeting on December 9, Dr. Sara Cody shared that healthcare personnel and residents in long-term care facilities represent 44 percent of deaths due to COVID-19, despite accounting for just 5 percent of cases.

The vaccine news comes as local and state cases and death counts hit staggering new records this week. The state reported 30,851 new cases on December 8, the highest recorded single-day case count since the start of the pandemic. More than 1.45 million positive cases have been reported statewide. On December 9, the state recorded 220 deaths, also the highest daily count to date; the state has seen more than 20,460 deaths from COVID-19 this year.     

As of Thursday, Santa Clara County had surpassed 44,000 cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic, with 1,050 new cases and a rolling 7-day daily average of 744 new cases. The County has seen 519 total cumulative deaths related to Covid-19. The county’s health dashboard acknowledges that the cumulative figures are underreported due to processing delays related to the high volume of newly reported cases.  

Hospitalizations are on the rise, and ICU capacity continues to drop in the County. As of December 10, Santa Clara County ICU bed capacity was at 13 percent, with just 45 ICU beds available county-wide; Covid patients currently make up 28 percent of occupied ICU beds. On Thursday the County reported 83 new hospitalizations over the previous 24 hours.

Three South Bay hospitals already have reached ICU bed capacity, and do not have free beds available to take new patients. Regional Medical Center of San Jose, O’Connor Hospital in San Jose and Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy are all full, with health professionals relating the surge directly to Thanksgiving.

Last Friday, in anticipation of a surge in cases, six Bay Area health officers issued a joint statement implementing portions of the state’s Regional Stay Home Order early.  

“We need to continue to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID,” said Dr. Ahmad Kamal with Director of Health Care Preparedness for Santa Clara County. “This includes all the public health measures that have been outlined up to now. It includes wearing a mask. It includes social distancing. It includes canceling all unnecessary interaction with anyone outside of your household.

“The hospitals are working together and the County is here for you to make sure we get through this together, but we need everybody to do their part and stop the spread now.”