California COVID-19 hospitalizations rise as more funding goes toward COVID-19 mitigation measures


Soraya Marashi


The COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.5 can be blamed for what is, according to The New York Times, California’s third-largest surge of the pandemic. With nearly 19,000 new cases being reported every day, and a test positivity rate that has doubled from 8.3% to 16.7% over the past five weeks, the current surge has achieved the second-highest test positivity rate the state has seen since the start of the pandemic. 


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As of Friday, for every 100,000 Californians, 40.6 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The state has reported a daily average of 4,857 hospitalizations as of Sunday, representing a 26% increase from two weeks ago, and compromising over 8% of all admitted patients. 

“The impact of COVID patients on the health care system must include consideration of non-COVID census as well as hospital staffing levels … While these figures are less than the peak of COVID cases seen in our 4 prior surges, 8% of any one diagnosis in hospitalized patients is a significant burden for a stressed system,” the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) told State of Reform.

486 patients are currently in the ICU, and 38 of the state’s 58 counties are considered to be high-risk for COVID-19, according to the CDC. Between June 20th and June 26th, unvaccinated people were 9.4 times more likely to be hospitalized than individuals that have received their booster shots. 

This new data comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California legislature allocate billions to combatting COVID-19, as specified in the recently-signed state budget. $1.8 billion is going toward the implementation of the SMARTER Plan, including more funding to support school testing and increase vaccination rates. 

CDPH says the SMARTER Plan focuses on how we manage the reality of COVID-19 remaining for the foreseeable future based on lessons learned from the last 2 years.

“We will keep California moving by increasing vaccination rates, especially among kids; ensuring we can quickly deploy staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), and resources to hospitals and communities; quickly matching patients up with effective treatments; tracking cases to address spikes as we see them and quickly identify new variants; and building our own stockpiles of masks and PPE.”

The state budget also includes $300 million in general funds for the CDPH and local health jurisdictions to permanently expand the state’s capacity to protect public health and promote health equity. 

Of that $300 million, CDPH is allocating annually $200.4 million to all 61 local health jurisdictions. Each local health jurisdiction will receive a base funding amount of $350,000 per year. The remaining balance of the appropriation will be provided to local health jurisdictions proportionally.

Each local health jurisdiction must dedicate at least 70% of funds to support the hiring of permanent city or county staff, including benefits and training. The remaining funds, not to exceed 30%, may be used for equipment, supplies, and other administrative purposes such as facility space, furnishings, and travel.