VENTURA, Calif. -- Ventura County leaders say that they are seeing a rise in numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and also people getting tested. County officials are urging people to be responsible during this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
“We really need to, more than ever in the last handful of months, go out of our way to protect our community,” said Dr. John Fankhauser, CEO of Ventura County Medical Center and Santa Paula hospital.
The message from Ventura County leaders is to be careful, and slow the spread. It comes as hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases surge. There were 140 new cases announced on Tuesday, and 82 people were hospitalized with 17 in the Intensive Care Unit.
“People think this is only affects the elderly or people with severe medical conditions,” said Fankhauser. “But that is not what we are seeing in our hospitals. In the 16 patients in the two hospitals, 10 of them are younger than I am. We have two patients in their 20s, one patient who is in her 30s, and we have six patients in their 40s. This is an illness that we are all susceptible too.”
Dr. Fankhauser says even though hospitals are busy, it's still safe to get medical care. And while he understands the community is struggling with COVID fatigue, it's harder on hospital staff.
"For them, it is disheartening to go into the community and see people having large gatherings in their backyard with four or five families coming together,” said Fankhauser.
Ventura County is among more than 40 California counties currently under an evening curfew. But Public Health says a lot of people are confused. Police and deputies will not be patrolling the streets to cite people outside their homes, but will encourage compliance, and use enforcement as a last resort.
“The idea of this health order is to not limit people's personal freedom,” said Dr. Robert Levin, who is the Ventura County Public Health Officer. “It's to curve late night outings and parties, other gatherings that can be a high risk of COVID transmission.”
In the meantime, testing is up significantly. Nearly 40,000 people have been tested in the last two weeks.
“Without that testing those cases would be out in the community,” said Mike Powers, who is the Ventura County CEO. “Until the vaccine is here and it's coming, really the only weapons we have is to battle this virus is testing, tracing and isolating.”