SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY (CBS13) — According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), ICUs in San Joaquin Valley are at capacity and are struggling to handle a surge of COVID cases in the area.

Although statewide cases are dropping and hospitalization rates are stabilizing, the San Joaquin Valley region is struggling.

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Why is this? Well, according to the CDPH, vaccination rates are lower in the region which may be contributing to the higher case rates.

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“California has measures in place to respond to the surge and changing dynamics of the pandemic,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency. “ICUs in the San Joaquin Valley, where vaccination rates are lower, are nearing capacity. Californians will get through this latest surge by continuing to follow the science, including by getting vaccinated and boosted, which is the safest way to protect yourself from the virus.”

With the higher spread of cases in San Joaquin Valley, the region is activating surge protocols, which will allow hospitals to transfer patients out of the region to areas with higher availability.

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“Real-world evidence continues to show that the vaccine is preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. With the combination of colder weather keeping people indoors, the waning of vaccine and natural immunity, the spread of the Omicron variant, and more mingling among non-household members, public health officials urge Californians to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible,” said the CDPH.