A nurse conducts a COVID-19 test in the parking lot of the Watsonville Community Hospital.
A nurse conducts a COVID-19 test in the parking lot of the Watsonville Community Hospital. Drive-thru testing has become standard practice in area hospitals. With COVID-19 on the rise, extreme precautions have been made.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
COVID 2021

COVID-19 surge worsens with record number of hospitalizations, 2 more reported deaths

Santa Cruz County, along with the rest of California, is experiencing a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Here’s what you need to know.

Santa Cruz County is in the midst of the worst surge of COVID-19 cases ever, leading to a record-breaking number of hospitalizations and two additional deaths reported by the Pacific Coast Manor nursing facility.

The situation is almost certain to get worse, as it’s too soon for these latest statistics to reflect the increase in cases and hospitalizations expected to follow the Thanksgiving holiday.

The record-breaking surge in cases is happening statewide: Over the last week, California has averaged 13,937 cases per day, a near 75% increase from two weeks ago.

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In a news conference on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that California is projected to run out of ICU-bed capacity by mid-December and said that a new stay-at-home order could be put in place this week.

That flood of new cases is starting to wash over hospitals.

California posted a record number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus, 7,415, on Saturday, according to the latest available data. That figure surpassed the previous record of 7,170 that was set in July.

In Santa Cruz County, Pacific Garden Manor — the nursing home in Capitola that is struggling with a significant outbreak among residents and staff — reported two more deaths related to an outbreak at the nursing facility earlier this month. The county is waiting for the coroner to confirm COVID-19 as the cause of death for those individuals before adding them to its official death toll, which now stands at 28.

A record 40 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County, four of them in the ICU, according to state data.

With 14.6 hospitalizations per one hundred thousand residents, Santa Cruz County ranks 26th among California’s 58 counties in hospitalizations per capita, putting it almost exactly at the median, according to data collected by CalMatters, a Lookout Santa Cruz content partner.

Santa Cruz is slightly above average in terms of case rate and positivity rate. A Lookout analysis shows the 14-day average of daily cases reported countywide is at 73.1 new cases per day. The county reports a positivity rate of 5% but the state reports that the Santa Cruz County 14-day average positivity rate is at 7.9%.

These numbers are still significantly better than most of the rest of the country: the national average is 49 cases per 100,000 people.

Here’s a deeper look at the county’s COVID-19 numbers as of Monday afternoon:

Cases: There are 1,089 active cases in Santa Cruz County according to the county dashboard. This means at least 0.4% of the population is currently infected with COVID-19.

Geography: The cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville account for the vast majority of the cases, with 22% of known cases in Santa Cruz and 55% in Watsonville. No other jurisdictions come close, as all other regions have fewer than 10% of known cases.

Demographics: The burdens of COVID-19 are not distributed equally: 59% of all cases in Santa Cruz County have been reported in the Latino population, despite their accounting or only 34% of the overall population.

Hospitalizations and ICU-bed capacity: 47 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, six of them in the ICU, according to county health officials. Santa Cruz County has a total of 48 ICU beds, according to data provided by the County.

Nursing homes: Cases related to nursing homes account for at least 101, or 9.3%, of the current active COVID-19 infections in Santa Cruz County.

Deaths: 28 COVID-related deaths have been confirmed to date. Pacific Coast Manor reported Sunday that two residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

County health officials will wait for the coroner to confirm COVID-19 as the cause of death before updating the official toll. Nursing home residents often have multiple health conditions, so it’s possible it was not the principal cause of death.

Contributing: Los Angeles Times