The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in San Bernardino County Wednesday and Riverside County Friday as ICU capacity continues to shrink and deaths are on the rise. That's according to the latest reports provided by county officials at Tuesday's Riverside and San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meetings.
“The first individuals who are going to be getting it are in the emergency department, in the intensive care units [and] in our COVID units across all the disciplines, whether it be physicians, nurses, respiratory or support staff,” said Andrew Goldfrach of San Bernardino County's Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
Goldfrach explained to his County Board of Supervisors that in this first half of the first phase of distribution, nursing home residents are also scheduled to receive the vaccine. Both counties are following federal guidelines for distribution plans.
The hopeful vaccine news comes as Riverside County is preparing for a ten day nursing strike at Riverside Community Hospital (RCH) set to begin on Christmas Eve.
Bruce Barton, Riverside County's Director of Emergency Management, told his County Board of Supervisors the hospital is planning to continue trauma care during the strike, but they are also making plans to be ready to transfer patients to other hospitals if they become overloaded. RCH is the second largest hospital in the county and staffing numbers are already short across the region.
“They are carrying the highest COVID load, both COVID positive in Med-Surge and the ICU, in the county…so this presents a problem that will be a huge impact on the system,” said Barton.
In a statement Monday, the SEIU, the union representing the nurses, says they are striking over unsafe working conditions. They described aggressive rationing of personal protective equipment, a lack of covid-19 testing, and staffing shortages that require workers to complete shifts without breaks.