UC Davis disease expert: Health care system getting better at treating COVID-19

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — Cases of COVID-19 are once again on the rise in California.

State officials reported Monday that 5,790 patients were sent to the hospital with COVID-19 and more than 1,700 were admitted to intensive care.

Those numbers are considerably greater than two weeks ago, on June 20, when California reported about 3,600 COVID-19 hospitalizations and more than 1,100 ICU admissions.

But despite soaring infections, there appears to be a glimmer of hope. Data shows the virus is killing fewer people than at the height of the pandemic.

The state reported 18 new COVID-19-related deaths on Sunday and six more Monday, marking the lowest single-day totals since March.

Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Davis, told FOX40 there are a couple of reasons for the downward trend. 

“The health care system is getting better at treating patients, recognizing cases earlier, giving appropriate supportive care,” explained Blumberg. “We have a couple therapies we’re now giving, the anti-viral Remdesivir. We know when to give Dexamethasone steroids. So, we have made some advances in treatment.”

Blumberg also notes the U.S. is doing a better job at preventing outbreaks at nursing homes, which accounted for roughly 40% of early COVID-19 deaths. 

“The people who are being admitted to the hospital now are younger than before and they have less risk factors. So, they’re younger, they’re healthier and they’re less likely to die,” explained Blumberg.

Even though COVID-19 fatalities are on the decline, health experts say the death rate could inch up again as the virus continues to spread and hospital volumes grow. It’s why Blumberg advises the public should do their part to protect themselves and each other.

“If you’re not hygienic, if you’re not wearing a mask, if you’re not washing your hands, you’re not only a danger to yourself but you’re a danger to others, to everybody in the community,” said Blumberg.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight out of 10 deaths from COVID-19 reported in the U.S. have involved adults 65 years and older. 

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