Central Coast hospitals see "mild" uptick in COVID-19 cases amid concerns about 'vaccine hesitancy'

Jul 26, 2021

More than a month since the state's reopening, health officials say they are beginning to notice cases of COVID-19 rising, with an uptick in patients returning to hospitals seeking care from the virus.

While the surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the nation is overwhelming some hospitals, on the Central Coast, patient numbers are still relatively low but increasing.

Robert Cook, Chief Nursing Officer for Twin Cities Community Hospital, said the Delta variant of the virus is partially fueling the upswing. 

“We’ve seen a small uptick over the last two weeks," Cook said. "Nothing like they are seeing across the nation, but we are seeing patches of patients come through with COVID.”

As of Monday, in San Luis Obispo County, four people are in the hospital with COVID19, with one of them in ICU. That's an increase of 33 percent from two weeks ago.

In Santa Barbara County, 28 people are in the hospital with COVID and 6 of them are in the ICU, a 71 percent increase from two weeks ago when 16 people were hospitalized.

Marian Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer, Chuck Merrill, said most of the coronavirus hospitalizations are among people who are unvaccinated.

“People who have been vaccinated can still get COVID-19," Merrill said. " But they tend not to get as sick, and we rarely see those people in the hospital.”

Cook said the vaccine hesitancy among some people will continue to push covid cases in the wrong direction.

“We’ve seen family members, where their loved ones are having a difficult time with COVID," Cook said. "And they still don’t want to get vaccinated.”

Merrill said while they aren’t seeing the same volume of patients they saw at the start of the pandemic, hospitals are preparing for worst case scenarios.

“We are concerned this is going to be more than a mild bump, we are concerned about people's behaviors, and the amount of vaccine hesitancy out there," Merrill said. "We are pushing harder than ever to get people vaccinated, because really this is our only way out of this.”

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines in SLO County, visit the website recoverslo.org. And for Santa Barbara County, you can visit countyofsb.org.