Morgues across Santa Clara County are full or nearing capacity, and residents incorrectly received invitations for COVID-19 vaccine appointments, health officials told county supervisors Tuesday.
Ahmad Kamal, Santa Clara County director of health care preparedness, said that three hospitals in the county have reported running out of space in their morgues, while another four say they could be filled up soon.
Santa Clara is relying on three refrigerated trailers, each holding 60 bodies, for extra space to house the deceased.
At least 944 people have died from COVID-19 in the county, where intensive care units have been overrun by the latest coronavirus surge. Only two ICU beds remain available.
During the meeting, County Executive Officer Jeff Smith said some residents received fake text messages inviting them to schedule an appointment to receive extra vaccine shots using CalVax, the state's official scheduling website. The messages said that because of extra vaccine doses, people could receive a shot at a county-run facility on Berger Drive.
“We know this because we just had a huge number of people show up at Berger who didn't have an appointment,” Smith said. “What we're doing at this point is we're screening the people who showed up. If they meet the criteria, we're going to vaccinate them.”
Supervisor Joe Simitian responded to Smith by saying, “I need to be clear, and I think so does the public. Does that mean the system has been hacked?”
Smith responded, "They hacked — well, not hacked. Hacked is the wrong word. They got access to CalVax inappropriately.”
He said the county’s own appointment system was still secure.
In an official release, the county warned the public about “misinformation being shared about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine” and pointed people to the county’s website for vaccine-related information.
“Some community members have reported to the County that they received text messages wrongly informing them of 'extra' vaccine supply availability and providing them with registration links for appointments at vaccination sites in Santa Clara County,” the release said. “To the County’s knowledge, these messages originated from unofficial sources.”