Sacramento County breaks record for hospitalized COVID cases amid omicron surge

·2 min read
Renée C. Byer/rbyer@sacbee.com

Sacramento County broke an all-time record for coronavirus hospitalizations over the weekend, reporting nearly 550 COVID-positive patients in hospital beds.

The county had 533 confirmed COVID-19 cases in hospitals Saturday and 547 on Sunday, according to data updated Monday by the California Department of Public Health. Each exceeded the previous record of 518 patients, reached at the peak of the winter 2020 surge.

Hospitalizations with COVID-19 in Sacramento County have more than doubled in the past two weeks, up from 267 on Jan. 2, as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to boost transmission rates.

The county’s daily rate for new infections has exploded to just over 200 per 100,000 residents, according to a Friday update from the local health office. That’s also an all-time high, more than triple the pre-omicron record of 64 per 100,000 set in December 2020.

Health officials say that while the omicron variant tends to produce milder illness than the previously dominant delta variant, sending a smaller proportion of infected people to hospitals, the sheer number of people contracting omicron at once will likely outweigh its relative mildness and overload hospitals with virus patients.

Hospital leaders in California recently warned that they expect the state’s health care systems to be overwhelmed through February due to omicron.

Nearly one-fifth of Sacramento County’s 2,867 licensed hospital beds are now occupied by patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19, state data show.

Kaiser Permanente last week announced the addition of 56 surge beds at Kaiser South Sacramento. Those beds will be staffed by the state, the health provider said, and will be used for non-COVID patients.

Sunday’s countywide patient total included 96 in intensive care units, state data show. That is still below the county’s all-time record of 130, but ICU increases tend to lag hospitalization increases by about a week.

Sacramento’s ICU total remains on a steep incline, rising from 72 to 96 patients in the past week, a 33% increase.

County health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye on a call with reporters last Thursday urged residents not to call 911 or visit hospitals’ emergency rooms for mild cases of COVID-19 or for the sole purpose of getting a COVID-19 test.

She also reiterated that unvaccinated residents are being hospitalized with the disease at a far higher rate than those who are fully vaccinated.

California’s hospitalization rate was eight times higher among unvaccinated residents than fully vaccinated residents for the week ending Dec. 26, the most recent with that information available, according to CDPH.

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