With most hospitals in Riverside and San Bernardino counties increasing COVID-19 patients, many are bracing for a surge as a result of holiday gatherings and the rapidly spreading omicron variant.
Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton is experiencing one of the largest spikes in cases and hospitalizations in the Inland Empire. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 nearly doubled in the past week, data shows. And the prediction is that it will get worse before it gets better.
“We’re very worried about holiday gatherings and what’s coming this New Year,” said Andrew Goldfrach, executive director of the San Bernardino County facility.
Hospitalizations in two counties – Riverside and San Bernardino – have increased over the past week. In Riverside County, hospitalizations for the seven-day period ending December 27 increased 21% from the previous week, according to statewide data. In San Bernardino County, hospitalizations increased 17% year over year.
The number of patients in ICUs in each county also increased over the past week. Riverside County saw a 6.1 percent increase, after a slight decline Sunday through Monday, and nearly 26 percent in San Bernardino County as of December 27.
But even with recent increases, the total number of people hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms in the two counties is much lower than in December 2020. In Riverside County, there were 387 people as of December 27, compared with 1,288 people on December 25 last year. . Likewise, in San Bernardino County, 482 people were hospitalized, less than 1,602 a year ago.
Jose Arballo Jr., a spokesman for Riverside University Health System, said the average number of COVID-19 cases per day over the seven-day period reached 4,449 on December 28, up from 3,561 cases the day before. .
“It’s a pretty big jump,” he said.
Riverside County has nine confirmed omicron cases, he said.
“The plain variant is still the standout variant,” says Arballo. “All the indicators are going up and we are seeing an increase but compared to where we were last year at this point we are doing a lot better.”
At Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, with patients coming in from across the region, the number of COVID-19 patients increased from 25 on December 22 to 41 on Monday, December 27, Goldfrach added. that most symptomatic patients are unvaccinated. Of those hospitalized, 14 are in the ICU; Twelve of the 14 people who received the highest level of treatment were unvaccinated, Goldfrach said.
Kaiser Permanente operates 15 hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Kern counties. Nancy Gin, regional health quality manager for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, said the volume of cases at hospitals and ICU units is only about 25 percent what it was a year ago.
She says fewer hospital admissions and ICU visits despite the higher infection rates are due to more people being vaccinated.
In Riverside County, 57% of the population is fully immunized, according to county statistics.
In San Bernardino County, 55% are fully immunized and 62.9% partially vaccinated, Goldfrach said, numbers that concern him. The region lags behind the state, where 71% of Californians are fully immunized.
“Those numbers are lower than we would like,” he said.
The impact of the virus on vaccinated versus unvaccinated people is clear.
“Omicron in fully vaccinated individuals, and especially in those who have received booster shots, is generally a fairly mild process and does not require hospitalization,” says Gin. “We’ve seen far fewer hospitalizations than people who have tested positive compared to last year.”
She says it’s much different for people who aren’t vaccinated, and worse for people with other health problems.
“The process (for those COVID-19 patients) can still be severe and lead to hospitalization,” says Gin.
In Los Angeles County, of the 4,228 patients in hospitals, 200 were in the ICU, with 551 ICU beds available as of December 27. San Bernardino County has 127 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, with 138 beds ICU is available. In Riverside County, 81 COVID-19 patients are in the ICU, with approximately 99 ICU beds available.
As the number of ICU beds becomes less, hospitals in IE are adding more mutant beds in anticipation of more people needing care.
“We are looking to convert non-ICU rooms into ICU rooms,” says Goldfrach. The hospital has perfected its incident command system, he said.
At San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland, the number of COVID-19 patients is increasing, from 22 October 7 to 28 on Monday, 27 December. “It is increasing, but mildly, ” said John Chapman, president and chief executive officer.
He is also concerned that in about eight to 10 days, a new surge from people gathering without masks or those who are not vaccinated will lead to more cases, hospitalizations and deaths. “We won’t know the impact until at least another week,” he said.
In the meantime, his emergency room team is stockpiling supplies of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies can reduce hospitalizations or ICU admissions by 80 percent, says Chapman.
Goldfrach urges people to get vaccinated and get booster shots. And wear masks indoors and congregate with unvaccinated people.
Shane Reichardt, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Department of Emergency Management, said 17 hospitals in the Riverside County system are experiencing an increase in emergency room visits, but most are not due to COVID-19. “Many people get the flu or try to get tested for COVID-19 the wrong way at the ER, which causes emergency workers to be hospitalized,” he said.
At Kaiser, its four Inland Empire hospitals are suffering the most from the current winter COVID-19 spike.
“If this current COVID activity plays out like previous spikes, we expect to see an improvement over the next four to six weeks,” Gin said.
Information about COVID-19 testing sites
Riverside County gettested.ruhealh.org/home
San Bernardino County https://sbcovid19.com/testing-sites/
LA . County https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/
Information about vaccines
https://www.sbsun.com/2021/12/28/inland-empire-hospitals-bracing-for-post-holiday-coronavirus-surge/ Inland Empire Hospital prepares for coronavirus surge after holiday – San Bernardino Sun