California is seeing a surge in hospitalizations, up 59% in a little over a week, and the state’s latest ensemble forecast says it’s only the beginning.
State data for December 31 showed that 5,835 people were being treated with Covid. Eight days later, the total had jumped to 9,275 — data was not published for January 1 due to the New Year’s holiday. Only Friday, 608 Covid patients were added by the state.
The ensemble Forecast on the California Covid Assessment Tool predicts that hospitalizations related to Covid will rise to 23,528 by February 6, a 153% increase over today’s number. This would surpass January 6, 2021’s previous record of 21938, set in 2021. Omicron is considered less virulent that other strains. The answer may lie in the variant’s increased transmissibility.
The state’s 7-day average test positivity rate has been skyrocketing. It’s up 3.6% in the past week to an all time high of 21.6%. That’s 60-plus percent higher than the peak of last winter’s surge. One in five of the state’s 528,039 people have been positive. It comes as the state registers a record number 528.039 tests. With more testing, test positivity tends to decline. A rise in positivity with additional testing usually indicates that the spread of infection has not been captured.
Friday’s state data dashboard Clearly indicatedOn average, 124.5 new cases are created per 100,000. That’s up significantly from the 109.2 per 100,000 Recorded on January 9, 2021. More concerning may be that it’s up 16% from the 107.1 per 100,000 recordedThe virus had already spread the previous day. For a figure that’s a 7-day average, that kind of jump in 24 hours would seem to indicate rapid spread of the virus.
California’s Friday record number of cases, 103 606 was likely to have influenced those record numbers. However, the test positivity and case rates are both 7 day averages. This tends to smooth out any one- or two-day bumps. The state’s most-populous county, Los Angeles, reported a record number of new cases on Friday, at over 43,000.
LA County Reports Over 43,000 Cases Setting New Daily Record; Health Systems Facing Rising Pressure Due to Healthcare Workforce Shortage – 43,712 New Positive Cases and 28 New Deaths Due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. View: https://t.co/1XuvZx3yWd pic.twitter.com/O0WXVK2QTA
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) January 7, 2022
Omicron is causing a smaller number of infected individuals to end up in hospitals, but the variant appears to be infecting hospitals more frequently by infecting a larger number of people at the same time. The majority of those infected, according to state data, are not yet vaccinated. Unvaccinated individuals were 10.1% more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid between December 13 and December 19, 2021 than those who had been fully vaccinated.
What’s more, the surge in hospitalizations is not the result of a backlog, as the census is kept up to date by hospitals in the state, a much more streamlined process than gathering case numbers from the thousands of test administrators statewide.