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Local hospitals see first COVID-19 spike in months, 98% of new cases are among unvaccinated

Eisenhower Health reported an increase in patients hospitalized for coronavirus this week. It’s a concerning trend health officials say is being seen at other hospitals countywide.  

According to a letter sent internally to staff, Eisenhower Health shares they had been seeing between one and four coronavirus patients in recent weeks. However, in the last few days, the hospital reported 12 positive cases. 

The letter also urged staff members to take extra precautions as the COVID-19 positivity rate has been doubling over the last three weeks. 

“I expect for the next several of weeks we’ll continue to see a rise in the number of cases in the hospital,” said Dr. Alan Williamson, Chief Medical Officer, Eisenhower Health. 

Dr. Williamson said out of the 12 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 11 were unvaccinated. As for the 12th who was vaccinated, he says that patient came into the hospital for another, separate medical reason unrelated to COVID-19. While receiving care, that patient was tested out of an abundance of caution, but only experienced minor coronavirus symptoms. 

“She just had a runny nose. And because of a concern about protecting staff, they went ahead and tested that patient, and it turned out positive,” he said. 

According to Williamson, it’s unlikely a fully vaccinated person would have symptoms so severe, they would need to be hospitalized. 

And the Riverside County Department of Health says they have the numbers to back up that claim.  

The county says there have been about 22,000 new COVID-19 cases since February. Out of those 22,000, they say 98.1% were reported in people who were either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.  

“The full vaccination is very protective...and we believe the recent numbers would reflect that as well,” said Jose Arballo, Riverside County Public Health. 

So what’s causing the spike in cases now? Officials say it comes as the economy just reopened on June 15th and people are gradually returning to ‘normal activities’ and gatherings. They say any COVID cases caused from Fourth of July gatherings probably aren’t being seen just yet. They expect to see those potential cases in about a week. 

“Even as the variants and other things come into play...getting vaccinated is your best protection against the virus,” added Arballo.

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

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