OC hospitals saw increase in COVID-19 patients double rate of the state over holiday weekend

FULLERTON, Calif. (KABC) -- A jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Orange County over Thanksgiving Day weekend was no surprise to an intensivist at St. Jude Medical Center.

Dr. Michael Katz specializes in critical care at the hospital and said he's seeing the same increasing trend here.

"We've had a substantial increase in the number of cases that we're seeing both in the emergency department and patients that are ill enough to require admission to the hospital," Katz said.

According to data from the California Department of Public Health, hospitalizations jumped 12 percent in OC from Friday to Saturday. That's about double that of Los Angeles County and the state over the same time period.

Katz said at St. Jude, that number is a continuation of an upward trend - up nearly 60 percent since last Monday and more than tripling over the last three weeks. The numbers are likely on the way to a spike higher than the July surge - especially with people gathering and traveling over the holidays.

Katz said those in older age groups and with metabolic diseases remain at highest risk.

"The more that we can protect those highest-risk individuals at this time, hopefully, is going to help flatten this current curve," Katz said, adding, "This has been a difficult time. It has been exhausting."

Katz worried that many critically ill patients at once would be a lot of stress on already-drained healthcare workers and hospital capacity.

"Not just physical beds, but also remember we have to have healthcare workers that are available to staff those beds 24 hours a day. Also concerns could come in regarding medical supplies and personal protective equipment," Katz said.

Katz said about a quarter of patients hospitalized there for COVID-19 have required ICU care.
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