COVID surge may have already hit Orange County: doctor

Vaccination site
People wait in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in a parking lot for Disneyland Resort on Jan. 13, 2021 in Anaheim, Calif. Photo credit Mario Tama/Getty Images

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (KNX) — A winter COVID-19 surge may have already hit Orange County, experts said Friday after health officials reported 316,384 cases to date on Friday — up 609 cases from Wednesday.

The uptick in case numbers and hospitalizations leads Deputy Health Officer Regina Chinsio-Kwong to believe that the county is at the precipice of a surge, much like the one experienced over the summer.

“The concern is that back in [the] August time period, when we looked at our hospitalizations…our hospitalizations rose up into the 400, 500 range,” Chinsio-Kwong said.

“So the potential is that we [might] be seeing those numbers yet again with this current surge.”

At minimum, Chinsio-Kwong said she expects a similar rise in hospitalizations to that seen over the summer. Admissions peaked at 592 patients in late August, according to the City News Service. 

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“We're hoping we can avert that, but it does require everyone to be more cautious and to wear a mask indoors,” Chinsio-Kwong added. “Everybody needs to take their risk factors into account. We are strongly encouraging everyone who is eligible to get a booster vaccine.”

An epidemiologist with the University of California, Irvine told CNS he disagrees with Chinsio-Kwong, insisting a surge has yet to be seen. That expert does, however, anticipate an uptick because of the two variants growing presence in California.

Roughly nine out of every 10 hospitalizations are unvaccinated people. Nine of every 10 intensive care patients are also unvaccinated.

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