California Governor Gavin Newsom offered details about the impact of Omicron during a press conference about his 2022-2023 budget proposal.
“We anticipate, by the 14th or 15th [of this month]…that we’ll be at a higher total hospital census than we were at the peak of this pandemic early last year,” said Newsom, noting also that “not all of them are Covid patients.”
That total count was 53,400, according to figures shared by the governor in his presentation. He also revealed the current total hospital census is 51,917. That means hospitals in the state are about 1,500 patients away from the all-time total census high reached last January. And, according to a state forecast, the current surge will drive that total count much higher.
Last winter saw a record high of 21,938 Covid-related hospitalizations on January 6, 2021. Today, the state reported 11,048 patients with the virus.
Deadline reported on Friday that the ensemble forecast from the California Covid Assessment Tool last week predicted that hospitalizations related to Covid would rise to 23,528 by February 6. That would eclipse last winter’s record of 21,938.
But an updated California ensemble forecast released today shows a much more rapid rise to an even higher peak.
Per the new state forecast, virus-related hospitalizations will top last year’s record at 29,416, on January 28, much higher and sooner than was predicted just one week ago. It’s also 34% higher than last year’s peak.
“As of this weekend,” said Newsom, “our current data suggests that we have roughly 4 1/2% of people that get the Omicron variant [who] end up hospitalized. The average length of stay is 3.6 days. Two things to note on those numbers: The 4 1/2% is lower than the Delta [rate] by a significant margin, and the number of days hospitalized is more modest [at 3.6], less days than with previous viruses.”
But, Newsom warned, “While the numbers maybe percentage wise may be smaller, the totality of those getting this variant are such that it’s going to put tremendous strain on our hospital system.”
He shared a chart comparing the current Covid numbers in the state with those one year ago. In addition to the nearly 100% higher number of cases this year, the governor’s current data already shows a higher number of emergency room visits related to Covid concerns, event though hospitalizations are fewer. And the total number of emergency room visits this year is double that of last year at this time.
“Take a look at those emergency department visits,” said Newsom. “You see that number is substantially greater. That’s where tremendous stress is currently being placed.”