State’s COVID-19 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions at record high

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ana B. Ibarra Cal Mat­ters

Climb­ing over the past week, Cal­i­for­nia’s num­bers for statewide coro­n­avirus-re­lated hos­pi­tal­iza­tions this week­end ex­ceeded the record lev­els set in late April, CalMat­ters’ hos­pi­tal data tracker shows.

The tracker, which pulls from state data, shows that on Sun­day, 3,702 pa­tients who’ve tested pos­i­tive for the novel coro­n­avirus were hos­pi­tal­ized statewide. That broke the pre­vi­ous record set on Satur­day, which saw 3,547 hos­pi­tal­ized COVID pa­tients.

The week­end num­bers rep­re­sent a marked in­crease the all­time high: 3,497 hos­pi­tal­ized pa­tients on April 29.

The re­cent jump fol­lows a twoweek pe­riod of mostly sta­ble num­bers of hos­pi­tal­ized coro­n­avirus pa­tients. The num­ber of those pa­tients in in­ten­sive care units also has been trend­ing up­ward, but more slowly.

Coun­ties re­port­ing the great­est in­creases are mostly con­cen­trated in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and the Cen­tral Val­ley, with el­e­vated caseloads in River­side, Kern, and San Joaquin coun­ties.

Among the rea­sons for the surge: more out­breaks in nurs­ing homes, the re­open­ing of busi

nesses, large gath­er­ings, and more rou­tine test­ing of pa­tients com­ing to hos­pi­tals for other ail­ments.

Stanis­laus County, for ex­am­ple, is on the state’s watch list be­cause of its re­cent spike in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions. Forty-nine peo­ple were in the hos­pi­tal by mid­week, 14 of them in the ICU. Deputy Royjin­dar Singh, a county spokesper­son, said the county is at­tribut­ing the growth to in­creased out­ings as more peo­ple come out from shel­ter­ing in place.

“Once things opened up, a lot of peo­ple started ig­nor­ing some of the so­cial dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols,” Singh said. “We’re hav­ing more ex­po­sure, so our case num­bers have al­most dou­bled, and with that our hos­pi­tal num­bers have also gone up.”

The state is also mon­i­tor­ing Kings, San Joaquin, Santa Bar­bara and Kern County for in­creased hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

In River­side County, where 299 COVID pa­tients were hos­pi­tal­ized on Satur­day, of­fi­cials are at­tribut­ing their uptick in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions to more pa­tients ei­ther com­ing in from skilled nurs­ing fa­cil­i­ties and be­ing trans­ferred from neigh­bor­ing Im­pe­rial County, which has the state’s high­est COVID hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rate at 48.9 per 100,000 peo­ple.

Also a fac­tor: Hos­pi­tals are rou­tinely test­ing more ex­ist­ing pa­tients and those who ar­rive through emer­gency rooms with other med­i­cal prob­lems, said River­side County pub­lic health spokesman Jose Ar­ballo.

Hos­pi­tals have re­ported cases in which they tested peo­ple sched­uled for surgery and the re­sults come back pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus. “That’s been a bit of a sur­prise,” he said.

“Cer­tainly as we have in­creas­ing amounts of mix­ing and mov­ing around this is what is ex­pected,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and hu­man ser­vices sec­re­tary, said Thurs­day. “No one is hop­ing for more hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, but we cer­tainly pre­pared the sys­tem for this.” The stay-at-home or­der, he said, was in part to give the state time to pre­pare its hos­pi­tals.

Ghaly said that he doesn’t dis­miss the up­ward trend of hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in non-ICU set­tings, but the key point to look at is ICU ad­mis­sions, which have re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble.

Amid the omi­nous trend in statewide hos­pi­tal­iza­tions this past week, there were also glim­mers of good news for some coun­ties. Twenty-one coun­ties in Cal­i­for­nia re­ported no COVID pa­tients over the week­end.

Many ex­perts re­gard the hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rate as more im­por­tant to mon­i­tor than the case rate, which can fluc­tu­ate widely de­pend­ing on what per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is be­ing tested.

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