Spiking Bay Area COVID hospitalizations 'almost exclusively' among unvaccinated, experts say

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Dr. Jorge Bernett has seen his share of heartbreak and loss, as an infectious disease specialist on the front lines of the COVID fight at John Muir Medical Center.

And now, after weeks of low patient counts, he finds what's happening now especially concerning.

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"It's very disappointing," said Bernett. "The vast majority of people we're seeing are unvaccinated. That's been the driving force of our new patients at the hospital."



John Muir now has 24 COVID patients at its two hospitals. That's nearly half of all the hospitalized COVID patients in Contra Costa County.

"Our cases have gone from under 20, to over 50 hospitalized patients in our county in just the last month," said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County.

Unlike at the height of the pandemic, the makeup of hospitalized patients has evolved from mostly older people, often with underlying conditions to those much younger.

"The people going into our hospitals are almost exclusively unvaccinated and they're younger people," said Farnitano, "because most of our seniors have been vaccinated so we're seeing younger people in their 30s, 40s and 50s really sick and in the hospital."

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Other Bay Area health care systems, like UCSF, San Francisco General and Stanford report similar upticks in the number of hospitalized COVID patients, and the vast majority are not fully vaccinated.

While the increase in hospitalizations is certainly concerning, if there's a silver lining, it's that relatively few patients are being treated in intensive care units."

"We probably have I think three or four on ventilators," said Bernett. "A couple of those in ICU are being monitored on high flow oxygen, but the majority are not ICU patients."

Still, the fact that more people are being hospitalized, in a county where 74% of those eligible are fully vaccinated means the COVID fight is not yet over.

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