With most hospitals in Riverside and San Bernardino counties seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients, many are bracing for an increase due to holiday gatherings and the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

Colton’s Arrowhead Regional Medical Center is seeing one of the largest increases in cases and hospitalizations in the Inland Empire. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 has nearly doubled in the past week, data shows. And the predictions are that it will get worse before it gets better.

“We are very nervous about these holiday gatherings and those to come this New Year,” said Andrew Goldfrach, operations manager of the San Bernardino County facility on Monday, December 27. “We are absolutely afraid of it.”

Hospitalizations in the two-county area – Riverside and San Bernardino – have increased over the past week. In Riverside County, hospitalizations in a seven-day period ending Dec. 27 were up 21% from the previous week, state data showed. In San Bernardino County, hospitalizations increased 17% over the same period.

The number of patients in intensive care units in each county has also increased over the past week. Riverside County saw an increase of 6.1%, following a slight drop from Sunday to Monday, and nearly 26% in San Bernardino County as of December 27.

But even with recent increases, the total number of people hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms in both counties is far lower than in December 2020. In Riverside County, there were 387 as of December 27, up from 1,288 on December 27, 2020. December 25 of last year. . Likewise, in San Bernardino County, 482 people have been hospitalized, less than 1,602 people a year ago.

The average number of COVID-19 cases per day in Riverside County over a seven-day period reached 4,449 on December 28, up from 3,561 the day before, said Jose Arballo Jr., spokesperson for Riverside University Health. System.

“It’s a really big jump,” he said.

Riverside County has confirmed 9 cases of omicron, he said.

“The delta variant is still the dominant variant,” said Arballo. “All the metrics are going up and we’re seeing an increase, but compared to where we were last year at this time, we’re doing a lot better.”

At Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, with patients arriving from across the region, the number of COVID-19 patients rose from 25 on December 22 to 41 on Monday December 27, Goldfrach said, adding that most symptomatic patients are not vaccinated. Among those hospitalized, 14 patients are in intensive care; 12 of the 14 receiving the highest level of treatment are unvaccinated, Goldfrach said.

Kaiser Permanente operates 15 hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Kern counties. The number of cases at these locations is only about 25% of the volumes in hospitals and intensive care units compared to a year ago, said Dr Nancy Gin, regional medical director of quality for Kaiser Permanente. Southern California, in an email.

Fewer hospitalizations and intensive care visits despite rising infection rates are attributed to more people vaccinated, she said.

In Riverside County, 57% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to county statistics.

In San Bernardino County, 55% are fully vaccinated and 62.9% partially vaccinated, Goldfrach said of figures relevant to him. The region is behind the state, where 71% of Californians are fully vaccinated.

“These numbers are lower than what we want them to be,” he said.

The effects of the virus on those who are vaccinated compared to those who are not are glaring.

“Omicron in fully vaccinated individuals, and especially in those who have been boosted, is generally a fairly mild course that does not require hospitalization,” Gin said. “We are already seeing significantly fewer hospitalizations relative to the number of people who tested positive than last year.”

It’s very different for those who aren’t vaccinated, and worse for those with other health issues, she said.

“The course (for these COVID-19 patients) can still be severe and result in hospitalizations,” Gin said.

In Los Angeles County, of the 4,228 inpatients, 200 are in intensive care, with 551 intensive care beds available as of Dec. 27. San Bernardino County had 127 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, with 138 intensive care beds available. In Riverside County, 81 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care, with about 99 intensive care beds available.

As the number of intensive care beds decreases, EI hospitals are adding extra beds in anticipation of more people needing care.

“We are looking to convert non-USI rooms to ICU rooms,” Goldfrach said. The hospital has reimplemented its incident command system, he said.

At the San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland, the number of COVID-19 patients is increasing from 22 on October 7 to 28 on Monday, December 27. “It’s increasing, but moderately,” said John Chapman, President and CEO.

He, too, fears that in about 8-10 days, a new wave of people gathering without masks or unvaccinated could lead to more cases, hospital visits and deaths. “We won’t know the impact for at least a week,” he said.

In the meantime, his emergency team is storing reserves of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies can reduce admission factors to a hospital room or intensive care unit by 80%, Chapman said.

Goldfrach urged people to get vaccinated and be given a booster. And to wear masks indoors and in gatherings with those who are not vaccinated.

All 17 hospitals in the Riverside County system are seeing an increase in emergency room visits, but most are not due to COVID-19, said Shane Reichardt, spokesperson for the Riverside County Emergency Management Department. Many have the flu or mistakenly try to take a COVID-19 test in the emergency room, crippling emergency personnel, he said.

In Kaiser, its four Inland Empire hospitals are suffering the greatest impact from the current winter wave of COVID-19.

“If this current COVID activity behaves like past outbreaks, we would expect improvement over the next four to six weeks,” Gin said.

COVID-19 test location information

Riverside County gettested.ruhealh.org/home

San Bernardino County https://sbcovid19.com/testing-sites/

LA County https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/

Information on vaccines

https://www.vaccins.gov/