The fourth wave of COVID-19 sweeping across many parts of California is taking an emotional and physical toll on nurses and doctors in the hardest-hit regions. 

The delta variant is spreading rapidly in communities where vaccination rates remain low. Hospitals are filling up with COVID-19 patients.

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Some hospital patients are leaving Humboldt County because St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka can’t treat them.


At a press conference last week, Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman explained, “The capacity is still there to take care of people in our county, the problem is those beds need staff. Many have retired due to the stress of this pandemic, so the pool of nurses are way down locally and nationally.” 

Nurse Shortages In California Reaching Crisis Point

Aug 26, 2021
Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

In the past month, four emergency room nurses — exhausted by the onslaught of patients and emotional turmoil wrought by COVID-19 — have quit at the Eureka hospital where Matt Miele works.

Miele, who has been a trauma nurse for four years, is actively looking for a less stressful nursing position and has colleagues who are, too. 

“On the bad days, I think ‘What am I doing and is this what I want to be doing?’” Miele said. “It’s shifting me to my core.”


The delta variant has changed California’s COVID-19 landscape in a big way.

New research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that even fully immunized people can contract the virus and pass it onto others. But health experts say vaccines are still our best chance at reducing viral transmission since fully vaccinated people are far less likely to get infected.

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

California health officials are recommending all residents wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance asking people to wear masks indoors in regions with “high or substantial” transmission rates. More than 90% of Californians live in counties meeting that threshold.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Photo

False information about COVID-19 vaccines continues to spread on social media, and comes as cases are on the rise across the United States.

PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols and contributor Steven Rascon fact-checked several claims in this week’s Can You Handle The Truth segment. 

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

California health officials are warning the public about the delta variant of the coronavirus which is more contagious than the SARS CoV-2 virus that’s been dominant for much of the pandemic.

The delta variant accounts for about 36% of cases sampled in California, the health department announced Friday. As of Friday, Sacramento County had identified 67 cases of this strain, Yolo County had 41 cases, Placer County had six cases and El Dorado County had one case.