Infectious Disease Expert Says Nearly Half the Patients at San Jose Kaiser Have Coronavirus

Roughly half of all patients at the 242-bed San Jose Kaiser hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 or are suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus.

So says Kaiser Permanente Executive Vice President Dr. Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease expert who dropped the bombshell in a recent interview with Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Editor-in-Chef Howard Bauchner.

“Our San Jose facility in California actually has almost half of the hospital filled either with COVID-confirmed or persons under investigation,” Parodi told Bauchner while discussing the hospital chain’s surge plans. “So we’ve literally had to revamp the hospital to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity from a personnel standpoint. Because to provide the care to these patients requires resource intensive personnel.”

Parodi, who leads Kaiser’s national pandemic response effort, told the publication that the South Bay facility’s intensive care unit maxed out with just COVID-19 patients, forcing the hospital to set up another area to care for regular ICU wards.

Santa Clara County has one of the highest concentrations of coronavirus infections in California, with the confirmed case tally reaching 459 and the death toll going up to 17, according to public health authorities. Of those who tested positive, 137 remain hospitalized. But a lack of available tests keep the official count deceptively low.

County Executive Jeff Smith said earlier this week that it’s safe to say that at least 10,000 of the nearly 2 million people who live in his jurisdiction have already come down with the highly contagious respiratory disease. Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness on Tuesday said the number could be up to 19,000—and counting.

Parodi told the medical journal reporter that doctors are seeing more than just elderly patients sickened by the pulmonary disease. Many young COVID-19 patients are unable to breathe on their own, requiring doctors to place them on mechanical ventilators that push air into their inflamed lungs.

“I think the jury’s still out about who is actually going to end up being the cohort that ends up in the hospitals,” the Kaiser exec said. “We have people that are as young as in their 30s and 40s who have clinically deteriorated and required mechanical ventilation.”

Once a coronavirus patient ends up in the ICU, Parodi said they typically require about two weeks of mechanical ventilation.

“So this is a long-term proposition,” he said, “in terms of vent days, ICU days and personnel days. And I am concerned about planning for having enough ventilators—I’m talking about all across the country—to be able to have this level of response.”

Parodi said it’s wise to prepare for an abrupt influx in patients needing intensive care. The San Jose hospital, by way of example, went from none to 10 in the span of a week. At this pace, doctors face the prospect of running out of ventilators and having to decide who gets one and who doesn’t, he went on to say.

The looming surge comes as hospitals throughout the nation grapple with a widespread lack of testing and personal protective gear such as N95 face masks, a snug cover that filters out all but 5 percent of airborne particles. Hospital administrators canceled all elective surgeries this month to save as much protective gear as possible in addition to rationing them and buying up stockpiles from local hardware stores.

Karl Sonkin, Kaiser’s South Bay spokesman, responded to a request for comment with a prepared statement from Senior Vice President and Area Manager Irene Chavez. She said that while the hospital won’t disclose the daily number of COVID-19-sickened patients, the current number is lower now than when Parodi was interviewed.

“Given that it is located in a COVID-19 hotspot, and that we count so many South Bay residents as our members, it should not be surprising that we would care for a significant number of our patients in our San Jose hospital,” she went on to write. “We are grateful to our physicians, nurses, and staff for the excellent care they are providing to all our patients, including those with COVID-19.”

This article has been updated with a statement from Kaiser. 

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia has officially secured a front row seat in Hell (Covid19 Sweep)

    The Homeless and Mentally Ill have been left out on the streets to fend for themselves during this health crisis in the City of San Jose (Santa Clara County)

    And to add insult to injury the “Big Chief” has ordered his troops to start removing the Homeless from door ways of businesses that are shut down for weeks.

    Video Below =

  2. “may have…” “are suspected of…” A provocative headline that incites and scares but little FACTs to support it. Another example of poor reporting. There’s enough fright in this city with out artificially stirring it up. Demerits for San Jose Inside

    • Dave, this is coming from the infectious disease expert leading Kaiser’s pandemic prevention efforts. Many of those patients have been confirmed to have the disease and the rest are sickened by its symptoms but are still awaiting the results or have no access to tests because of a widespread shortage. But the hospital is making a very educated guess that half its patients have it. This isn’t conjecture.

      • Jennifer how many Ventilators will they need to meet the surge? What are they doing to find Ventilators? Is the county and state helping them?

        • Urge The President of the USA. The Production ACT of 1950’s USA. “White House to use Defense Production Act to procure test kits”, FEMA chief says by Thomas Franck @TOMWFRANCK.

        • Urge our President of the USA. To enforce The Production Act of 1950 as soon as feasible to protect communities.

        • > Dave, half of patients being positive is a fact.

          No. It;s NOT a fact.

          It’s a vague, misleading sentence.

          > ” Roughly half of all patients at the 242-bed San Jose Kaiser hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 or . . . ”

          Or WHAT?

          ” OR have NOT tested positive.”


          It’s alarmist hype!

          As a logical proposition, the sentence COULD ACCURATELY mean that “half the patients were tested” and it is possible that NONE tested POSITIVE!

          This is the type of vague, deceptive, muddled crap that politicians do ALL THE TIME!

          Bill Clinton was a master.

          “It depends on what the meaning of “is” is.”

          • Thank you SJ for parsing through the hysteria. Assuming that 12% of those people tested actually turn out to be positive (read here why that percentage itself may be too high, and further assuming that 121 were tested, then at most 15 patients have it in a hospital with 242 beds. It’s possible that even the figure of 121 is that high only because Kaiser is segregating patients with Covid-19 symptoms to its San Jose hospital as reported in the comment by KERMOY.

      • > This isn’t conjecture.


        It IS conjecture! ! ! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS!

        > or are suspected of being infected . .

        > or persons under investigation . . .

        > But a lack of available tests keep the official count deceptively low.

        In the absence of dispassionate objective scientific testing, I would call the assertions “conjecture”.

      • People should watch/listen to the interview before they consider your posting alarmist. The interview provides us with a rare opportunity to understand the crisis and how the health care system is preparing.

      • Thank you Jennifer for making this extraordinary interview available to the public. It is a rare opportunity for us to understand the crisis from the point of view of medical experts actually working in the hospitals. Anyone who calls your post alarmist is either in denial or hasn’t yet watched/listened to the interview.

        • > Anyone who calls your post alarmist is either in denial or hasn’t yet watched/listened to the interview.


          Be careful folks and keep your wits about you.

          This is a CRISIS and CRISES always bring out the “looters”. Looters are people who try to help themselves to valuable stuff when everyone is distracted by “the crisis”.

          What Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Democrats did when they tried to cram absurd spending into the recovery bill was, pure and simple, LOOTING.

    • > A provocative headline that incites and scares but little FACTs to support it.

      You beat me to it, Dave.

      We’re living in a “negativity matrix” where every bureaucrat, news reporter, blogger or politician seems think they’re in a competition to discover the the worst, most alarming “coronavirus worst case scenario”.

      Gavin Newsom thinks 60 percent of Californians are going to be infected with coronavirus? Well. I THINK IT’S GOING TO BE EIGHTY PERCENT!

      VOTE FOR ME!

      BUY MY BOOK!



    • Totally disagree. The death toll is climbing. And will increase at an untenable pace. We have a friend in that hospital – a healthy 40 yo father – who was just intubated – and there’s already not enough ventilators for the sick. And that’s just one hospital. It’s happening everywhere.

    • I agree when the first two deaths under 40 occurs actual numbers aren’t making the charts of deaths per infected age brackets and not separating underlying health issues doin the healthy in those age brackets. The only minor who died in the US had an alternate reason for dying according to the LA Times quote on the subject, but HIPAA prevents he details about that case. So only that one exception to an under 20 death and no-one is encouraging parents to not panick and hoard? Below 40 is worth looking deeper as well into deaths from underlying conditions and other causes, they are much closer to the lower bracket than not in safe. Excluding the good news dangerously contributed to sensationalism and panic in a health crisis. Educate yourselves people! 80 and up with underlying conditions, go home and be the boy in the bubble until this blows over … your life could depend on it.

  3. It is very likely most of us have it, and it is not killing us. Stay at home. California lockdown was just in time. People have to stay at home this month and next. New York was late on lockdown. We have to do our part and stay at home. Treat yourself at home if symptoms are not severe. Your place is the safeties at this time. Dave, half of patients being positive is a fact. It is not scary but an expected reality of these times. Some sick people have not been tested. Our mortality rate is low compare to our potential numberS and currently COVID-19 cases in the state. The lockdown is protecting those that can die from it.

  4. Thank you Jen, good find on these important facts impacting our local community. It is more important than ever to be listening to our nurses, doctors and first responders before merely accepting what is disseminated to the public by the elected officials after that information has been diluted by hospital administrators or folks interested in the state and federal funds that will be released because of the crisis.

    If history is destine to repeat, we need to consider how Santa Clara County has so grossly abused funds for crime victims and assure that is not repeated during this health crisis.

    The coronavirus impacts the rich, the poor, the old and the young, despite the initial reports.

    It will be more important than every to assure transparency and accountability when it comes to how our public and private hospitals responded, and how our county supervisors managed our public funds during this time. We live in Silicon Valley and have access to tech and information like nowhere else in the world. Now, instead of the coders we need to be listening to the virologists, infectious disease specialists and medical professionals who live and work here. They are some of the greatest minds in the world. Even if they don’t know a lot about technology.

  5. TheCDC statistics for the 2018-2019 regular old flu season (which was universally called the Asian Flu until everybody got so PC) was that in the US alone 35 MILLION got it and 34,200 people died. Where was the hysteria? SARS during the Obama years was way worse than that.
    If Trump were not president, COVID reporting would not have lasted 2 news cycles.

  6. So how will it work with women who are going into labor at these times? Is there a safe area to which they can go in to, and safely deliver there babies? Will they be getting sent to other hospitals to deliver? Or what is going to happen since most of the hospital has patients which are infected at the moment?

    • > So how will it work with women who are going into labor at these times? Is there a safe area to which they can go in to, and safely deliver there babies?

      Things are still very safe.

      The number of positive coronavirus test in Santa Clara Count is roughly 400, out of a population of 1,900,000.

      Roughly, ONE person out of SIX THOUSAND has tested positive.

      Most people won’t have personal contact with six thousand people in a year.

      And should you casually have contact with an infected person inside of your “social distancing bubble”, your chances of becoming infected are small.

      CONTACT is NOT infection.

      Many of the firefighters that have gone into fourteen day isolation did so because of contact and the overwhelming number of them did NOT have in infection not develop one.

      Hospitals and medical facilities are on top of the problem. In my opinion, they’re still very safe.

      • > Pregnant women and Labor and Delivery nurses informed me that through May pregnant women are being told to make plans that don’t include going to the hospital – . . .

        Sounds like less work for Labor and Delivery nurses. But, they’ll still get paid.

        I suspect that avoiding hospitals for childbirth is a bad idea for most people.

  7. If you’re retired as I am then your time is all free. Find a couple of books you always wanted to read or a subject you always wanted to master. Mathematics is my hobby. I took many mathematics courses, but they were dumbed down so that engineering students could understand them. I realized I was in the wrong program but it was too late to change my major. I’ve just received Rudin’s classic 3 works on analysis and I expect they will keep me busy for the rest of the year.

    • Symon, do not worry. Many people will become experts on mathematics and general economics. It is not the impact but the aftermath that will bring big lessons to people. The positive and negative numbers will become second nature. People are not numbers. The mathematical formula needed now is one that diminish infection and increases survival; work on that for us. Unfortunately, many people will have to worry on mastering the subject of becoming fully employed again and debt free. It appears their challenges are not optional subjects while your are! Enjoy it while it last. Hopefully you won’t die from this virus.

  8. Thanks for the info,refuse to accept what’s happening and to follow only advice we have to avoid getting infected it maybe your first and last mistake. Be safe people.

  9. “ Nearly Half the Patients at San Jose Kaiser Have Coronavirus” is such a misleading headline! I thought, “oh my gosh, how many plan members are there? Half of them have CO-Vid19???!!!” Then I read the article and find out that approximately 1/2 of the patients in the hospital have it! That’s 141 people! How many of them are symptomatic? How many testing positive are there for other reasons? Please report facts and stop resorting to scare tactics! You got me to read your article but it wasn’t worth my time because you didn’t report anything that increased my understanding of this virus.

    • > Please report facts and stop resorting to scare tactics! You got me to read your article but it wasn’t worth my time because you didn’t report anything that increased my understanding of this virus.

      Y-E-S-S-SSSSSS! ! !

    • Why in the world would they admit a patient that was not symptomatic?!? You say it’s scare tactics, I say get your head out of the sand!

      • > Why in the world would they admit a patient that was not symptomatic?!?

        Why, you ask?

        Pay attention.

        The patients tested probably DID have symptons.

        MOST (90%) of people WITH respiratory symptoms who were tested for coronavirus DID NOT HAVE CORONAVIRUS.

        “Symptoms” are NOT proof of coronavirus.

    • Total Confirmed Cases 459 Santa Clara County
      Hospitalized 137
      Deaths 17
      Close Contacts of Known Cases 88
      Presumed Community Transmission 217
      Age Breakdown for Total Confirmed Cases
      20 or Under: 17, 21-30: 38, 31-40: 79, 41-50: 101,
      51-60: 81, 61-70: 59, 71-80: 48, Over 80: 28, Unknown Age: 8

      • > Total Confirmed Cases 459 Santa Clara County

        The population of Santa Clara County is 1,930,000.

        459 cases is one person in every 4,200.

        Most people won’t have 4,200 people in their “social distance” bubble in a year.

        Everyone remain calm.

        • 1 in 4200

          and they outlawed rent collection…

          Any renter who reads this, dont be fooled, PAY YOUR RENT

          if you get 2-3 months behind you are DONE

      • > Age Breakdown for Total Confirmed Cases
        > 20 or Under: 17, 21-30: 38, 31-40: 79, 41-50: 101,
        > 51-60: 81, 61-70: 59, 71-80: 48, Over 80: 28, Unknown Age: 8

        Do the math!

        Actually, an opportunity for someone other than me to do the math,

        Is there anyone out there in the life insurance business who understands actuarial things and mortality tables?

        What are the normal mortality rates for each of the age cohorts in Santa Clara County?

        How do the reported coronavirus deaths in Santa Clara County change the mortality rates?

        My guess is: only a TINY, MICROSCOPIC amount.

        It’s DESPICABLE how the hypesters are scaring the pants off of people with tiny, tiny changes in mortality and then using the FEAR and CHAOS to loot the public treasure of trillions of dollars.

        I hope there IS a hell for these people to go to.

  10. All you people criticizing the reporting here should be ashamed of yourselves. Half the people in the hospital or two people in the hospital. You don’t know where those people have been over the past two weeks. And anyone they unknowingly gave it to over the past two weeks… and those people over the next two weeks….. Get a grip! 7500 dead in Italy and their numbers growing by 7.5% a day. And what’s happening in New York. You’re in for a rude awakening pal!

    • Well said. We don’t know and beating up on reporters trying to cover what feels impossible to sort sure isn’t going to help. There will be those who believe this is fake news. What is not fake are the lines at the stores, the shuttered busiensses and the clogging of the hospitals such that those with other illnesses will die for lack of access.

      People who have a family memeber hosptialized can’t visit them. Even if it is just a handful , can you imagine not being able to be at the hospital if it were your child, your parent or your loved one?

      It is easy for people to sit in the safety of their home and criticize the doctors, the nurses, the politicans and the reporters, and we certainly need speech protected so people can speak their minds, but marginaizing or attacking reporters who try to bring any information is hardly a formula for sucess. Instead, find or provide information that is based on fact, observation or first hand account. That seems to be a better use of speech in times like these. There will be plenty of time for Monday morning quarterbacking when this is over.

  11. So I am an RN and the San Jose Hospital is for COVID-19 cases only. Non Covid are going to Santa Clara Kaiser. There is so much we still are learning , but it is definitely not like the flu–Be safe and sane and I would listen to the Physicians and nurses who are caring for the sick with NO proper protection–Stay at home!!!

    • Thank you for speaking up. Many nurses I heard from today tell me lack of protection is biggest concern, but that they are also having difficulty getting HR to help, OSHA violations rampant, more nurses getting sick, worried about their own kids , daycare and even custody issues. Valley Med is telling anyone presenting with symptoms to take Tylenol and go back home. If that is true then the county is presenting one image to the public and media, and another to the patients presenting with symptoms. There is going to be lots of state and federal money coming in and if that money is being diverted to elected officials and lawyers instead of nurses and fighter fighters, people are going to die!

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