SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The state’s top health officer has raised a red flag over a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases that have been diagnosed and shown up in hospitals and emergency rooms in recent days.
State Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly said it’s a cause for concern coming into this weekend.
Health officials were waiting to see how the Labor Day weekend would affect the number of cases. That’s when there were more travel and social gatherings.
Two and half weeks later, graphs for the number of cases, emergency room visits and hospitalizations tell the story.
“We’re starting to see what we think is attributable to Labor Day,” Dr. Ghaly explained.
However, Ghaly said it’s hard to pinpoint because that’s also about the time wildfires punched a hole in virus prevention measures.
That’s also the time of the rollout of the color coded blueprint for business reopenings.
Overall, the numbers for the state are still way below peak levels but health officials look at trends to guide prevention efforts.
“Look at the right side of the graph and you will see some of these lines starting to go up,” Ghaly said.
The projections show that hospitalizations will go up 89% in the coming month as more test results come in. That’s up to nearly 4,800.
That’s still way below the peak but there is enough concern to hold a rarer Friday briefing in anticipation of another active weekend with more businesses opening statewide.
Ghaly said everyone has to continue safe practices to keep cases low as winter approaches when yet another spike is possible.
“Cooler weather, colder weather, rainy weather where it’s harder to do some of the things we enjoy outside, and the urge to go inside will be even stronger,” he said.
An increase in COVID-19 cases just before flu season is also a big concern for officials. Ghaly said getting flu vaccinations now would help immensely because the state is going into uncharted territory.
“We’ve never done COVID hospitalizations with flu hospitalizations,” he said.
Despite the warning, many areas continue to see improving numbers of COVID-19 cases. The Department of Public Health soon expects to see 19 additional counties reach a lower tier of cases, allowing them to relax restrictions on indoor businesses.