SAN FRANCISCO (KRON)– Winter viruses that usually peak in December and January are surging now. This is stretching capacity at Bay Area hospitals, and doctors are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated.
During the holidays, they say to stay away from others if you or your loved ones are sick. The number of people hospitalized with a respiratory viral illness in Contra Costa County now exceeds the number of patients treated during the peak of the COVID-19 omicron variant surge.
“We’ve seen all the metrics in the hospitals inching up. Whether we’re looking at the number of people with COVID, overall beds that are full, ICU beds that are full, respirators that are in use. All of those numbers are inching up. Particularly, our pediatric wards we’re concerned about, but even the other stuff, you know, it all has a downstream and cascading effect,” said Contra Costa County Public Health Director Ori Tzvieli
Alarmingly, Tzvieli says pediatric RSV cases are already at their seasonal peak. “Usually, we see peak number of respiratory illnesses in December, January, February. So, we’re concerned about the winter to come,” said Tzvieli
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UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco has set up a tent in the parking lot to treat patients with less urgent illnesses and injuries to keep beds available for those who need emergency care. Kaiser Permanente says its hospital capacity is manageable right now, but that could change if the trend of rising viral case rates continues.
“We’re always concerned about capacity and making sure that we have enough space and staff to manage these things, but at this time its sufficient,” stated infectious disease specialist Darvin Smith.
Dr. Smith says flu cases have been consistently rising for six straight weeks and, right now, case rates are higher than they have been during that stretch. Smith recommends getting a flu and COVID-19 shot together if you have not already.