• Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

COVID-19 patients fill 20% more ICU beds than last week

The number of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care has increased by 20% over the past week, public health officials said in their latest update.

They have been delivering a steady drumbeat of warnings to the public that cases of three winter viruses — COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV — are rising sharply. In some cities, hospital staff have set up tents in parking lots to screen patients.

As of Wednesday, 346 patients were in hospital intensive care units, accounting for about 13% of available beds. A larger percentage of COVID-19 tests were positive, 7.6% this week compared to 6.3% in the report released Thursday.

Nationwide, about 11 in every 100,000 residents in the state have had the respiratory disease, which has killed millions worldwide over the past 2.5 years. Last week, nine out of 100,000 had COVID.

The official country figures do not take into account the many people who are testing themselves at home.

Stanford University wastewater analyzes in Sacramento and San Jose show that the COVID-19 pathogen has spiked in samples collected over two weeks. In Davis, samples showed COVID-19 levels more than double what they were two weeks ago, even though the presence of the pathogen was declining.

Influenza A was found in sewage samples in Sacramento, Silicon Valley, Gilroy and southeast San Francisco more than twice as high as two weeks ago. RSV values ​​continued to increase in Sacramento and Palo Alto but remained stable or decreased.

On average, about 12 people a day die from COVID-19 in California, public health officials said in Wednesday’s report. They say vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. Unvaccinated people are three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who received at least the first two vaccinations.

Flu vaccines are also available. There is no vaccine against RSV, a disease that can cause severe breathing problems in infants. dr Erica Pan, the California epidemiologist and pediatrician, said parents should see a doctor if their children have signs of stress, including flared nostrils, grunting or wheezing, or full engagement of the diaphragm to suck in air.

The challenge, doctors say, is that babies in particular have not yet developed the reflex that triggers mouth breathing when their nose is too stuffy to get air.

This story was originally published November 24, 2022 6:00 a.m.

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Cathie Anderson covers healthcare for The Bee. When she was growing up, her working-class parents paid for the care out of their own pockets. She joined The Bee in 2002, where her roles included business columnist and feature writer. She previously worked for newspapers such as Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.