SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – ICU capacity in the San Joaquin Valley is at or near capacity, according to California’s Department of Public Health.

The update on Friday painted a troubling picture of the ongoing COVID-19 situation across a number of counties, including Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Tulare, Mariposa, and Merced.

The state’s solution is to activate what’s called ‘surge protocols,’ which allows patients to be transferred between hospitals in order for them to be treated. That includes any patient type that best helps reduce the burden on the ICU, including non-COVID-19 patients.

“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.”

State health officials say cases, hospitalizations and deaths are highest among unvaccinated individuals and lowest among boosted individuals – regardless of ages.

As of Friday, the state reports that 81.7% of those eligible have been vaccinated with at least one dose.