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California coronavirus hospitalizations increase – Los Angeles Times

A wave of new coronavirus infections is hitting California’s healthcare system, pushing COVID-19 hospitalizations to levels not seen since early spring – giving new urgency to efforts to curb transmission as a growing number of counties urging residents to wear masks indoors.

Statewide, the number of coronavirus patients in hospital has more than doubled in the past month, and the numbers have accelerated further in the past two weeks.

Even with the recent increase, however, the state’s healthcare system is nowhere near as overwhelmed as it was during the fall and winter wave. And many health experts are convinced California will never see numbers on this scale again, given the number of residents vaccinated.

But with the continued spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, which officials fear could multiply in communities with lower inoculation rates, the next few weeks are critical to determining the potency of the latest punch from the pandemic.

Recent increases confirm that almost everyone who becomes seriously ill from COVID-19 at this stage is not vaccinated.

“This is an unvaccinated pandemic. And so, if you care to get back to normal once and for all, please get the vaccine, ”Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters on Tuesday.

The fact that about 52% of all Californians are already fully vaccinated puts a cap on the number of people who remain at risk of potential infection.

Yet LA County Health Services Director Dr Christina Ghaly said Tuesday that “the individual consequences of choosing not to be vaccinated can be dire for that person, their family and friends.”

Ghaly said seeing a continuous flow of COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated, triggers a range of emotions among healthcare workers who have long been on the front lines of the pandemic: frustration , sadness, and “a certain level of disbelief that after all the pain and suffering that we’ve all seen… there are still some people who don’t believe it or don’t believe it can affect them.

Californians most at risk, especially the elderly, have been vaccinated at high rates. But the numbers are falling for younger segments of the population, and children under 12 are still not eligible to be vaccinated.

“I think sometimes the mentality is that people think, ‘Well, I’m not going to get that sick. I’m doing well. I’m not going to die of COVID; I am young; I am in good health, ”Ghaly said. “And I can tell you, I hope it does, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.”

From June 22 to July 6, the daily number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in California rose from 978 to 1,228, an increase of nearly 26%, according to state data.

In the past two weeks, the daily count has risen a further 76%, reaching 2,164 on Monday.

California’s intensive care units are also filling up. As of Monday, 552 people positive for the coronavirus were in intensive care units statewide, more than double the total a month ago.

The latest numbers are still pale from the peak of the last wave, when more than 21,000 COVID-19 patients were crammed into hospitals and nearly 4,900 people were in intensive care on certain days.

Authorities have long characterized the transmission of coronaviruses as a dangerous chain: the growing number of infections triggers a corresponding increase in hospitalizations a week or two later and, possibly, an increase in deaths.

However, inoculations have the power to interrupt this. There is a wealth of academic and real data demonstrating the high level of protection offered by vaccines, especially when it comes to preventing serious illness and death.

“We have the tools to end this epidemic. It’s up to us to use these tools to the fullest, ”Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

In Los Angeles County, for example, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients more than doubled last month.

But of the nearly 4.8 million people across the county who had been fully vaccinated as of July 13, only 213 – or 0.0045% – ended up being hospitalized for COVID-19.

In Ventura County, health worker Dr Robert Levin said recent data shows unvaccinated residents are 22 times more likely to be infected and hospitalized than those who have rolled up their sleeves.

“All members of the community should take action to protect themselves and others from this potentially deadly virus,” he said Monday.

San Bernardino County hospitals “are also seeing an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, and, while national statistics are any indication, not all of them are being vaccinated,” according to acting director of public health Andrew Goldfrach.

“What everyone needs to recognize is that we cannot end this pandemic until we have vaccinated the vast majority of our population,” Goldfrach said in a recent situation update. . “It was like that with polio, it was like that with smallpox, it was like that with measles, and it will take a mass vaccination to eliminate COVID-19. The truth is, we have the collective power to stop illness and death. “

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said more than 97% of COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide were unvaccinated.

Like hospitalizations, coronavirus cases have rebounded statewide over the past month – although they are nowhere near as high as previous increases.

In the one-week period ending Monday, California reported an average of 4,200 new cases per day, more than four times the level in mid-June.

At the height of the fall and winter wave, the state averaged over 40,000 cases per day.

And many experts believe the healthcare system is better armed against an increase in infections this time thanks in large part to vaccinations.

Of particular concern is the Delta variant, which is said to be twice as transmissible as conventional strains of coronavirus. Although it arrived fairly recently in the state, it quickly became the dominant variant in California.

Like other variants, Delta is the result of natural mutations that occur as the coronavirus replicates and spreads. Reducing the number of infections, Ghaly said, limits the chances of the virus adapting in even more dangerous ways.

“The virus cannot mutate without a host. He does not mutate sitting on a table; it doesn’t mutate sitting in a respiratory droplet in the air, ”she said.

Given the risk Delta poses to those who have not yet been fully vaccinated, 16 counties – including Ventura, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Clara – are now urging all residents, even those who have been fully vaccinated, to wear masks in indoor public places such as grocery stores, cinemas and retail outlets.

LA County requires that masks be worn in such settings.

All of these counties have gone beyond guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health, which continues to state that fully vaccinated residents are allowed to go without a mask almost anywhere, although unvaccinated residents should still mask themselves in the rooms. indoor public spaces.

Asked about the possibility of issuing a new statewide mask warrant, Newsom said on Tuesday that “if we can get more people vaccinated, that answer is unequivocal: we won’t need it.”

“We are not trying to do any physical distancing, no social distancing. We’re not trying to shut down anything. We are fully committed to getting our children back to school, in person, for instruction, ”he said. “But we need to get more people vaccinated. “


While the vaccination campaign has largely entered a more deliberate phase – a phase in which officials, in cooperation with community groups and local leaders, work on the ground to answer questions, dispel misinformation and strengthen Confidence in vaccination – some regions take a different approach, unless it comes to their employees.

Pasadena will require all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 once the injections receive federal approval – the first municipality in Southern California to take this step.

San Francisco has already ordered all workers in “high-risk settings,” such as hospitals, nursing homes and senior residential facilities and prisons, to be fully immunized by September 15. The city’s 35,000 workers – including police, firefighters, guards and clerks – will also have to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs once a vaccine is officially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. United.

However, the vast majority of cities and counties have yet to adopt this tactic.

LA County Health Officer Dr Muntu Davis said last week that “we recognize that not everyone gets vaccinated, and we accept it. It’s a personal decision right now.

But, he added, “If you decide not to get the vaccine, be sure to do everything you can to reduce your risk, especially at this time.”

Times editors Faith E. Pinho and Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.





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