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Local Health Official Says Hospitalizations Worse Than The Peak of Pandemic

Richard Green
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Hospitals in the Monterey Bay Area have seen an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, RSV, and influenza.

As many prepare to celebrate the holidays, local health officials are asking residents to be vigilant as they spend time with friends and family.

In what some health experts are calling the “triple-demic,” hospitals across the Monterey Bay Area have seen a substantial increase in hospitalizations due to influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV.

“The number of patients requiring hospitalization is more than we ever saw during the worse surges of COVID,” said Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System chief medical officer Dr. Allen Radner.

Despite the increase, he says patients aren’t as sick as they were during the peak of COVID-19. One of the most common things Radner is seeing is patients that haven’t been vaccinated recently, especially older adults.

“It's just very frustrating for us when we see people come to the hospital with particularly vaccine-preventable illnesses that could have been prevented,” Radner said.

Dr. David Ghilarducci echoes those same concerns. He serves as the public health officer for San Benito County and as deputy health officer for Santa Cruz County. He says the three hospitals under his jurisdiction have recently been at over 95% capacity.

“It's not a time to panic. But it is time to reinstitute some of the things we know how to do so well,” Ghilarducci said. “I know it's been nice to let our guard down a little bit, but during this sort of peak time, this is a good time to protect yourself and protect your family.”

Ghilarducci says you can do that by wearing a mask in public spaces, staying home if you’re sick, and getting vaccinated.

The Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System is one of KAZU's many business supporters.

Jonathan Linden is a reporter at 90.3 KAZU in Marina, California. He joined KAZU in October 2022 and had previously reported for fellow NPR-affiliate KVCR in San Bernardino, California.