Officials at Scripps Health predicts a drop in the current surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by the Omicron variant by early March as recent figures begin to slow compared to recent months. 

The health system made the announcement on Tuesday, revealing that the daily COVID-19 volume spanning across its five hospitals peaked two weeks ago. At that time, there were 356 admissions, including 62 patients in intensive care units (ICUs), compared to pre-holiday volumes in Mid-November when there were 78 patients with 31 in ICUs. 

Officials at Scripps say the “extremely high” accuracy level of the system’s modeling, ran in the low- to mid-90 percent range during the Alpha variant in the winter of 2020, the Delta variant in the summer of 2021, and the Omicron variant that arrived this winter.

Despite figures winding down, officials say staffing demands at Scripps facilities will remain high with cases unrelated to COVID and as other patients reschedule procedures that were deferred during the latest wave of virus cases. 

"We are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel for the Omicron surge, but this pandemic likely isn't ending," Scripps President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said. "COVID vaccination continues to play an important role in reducing the severity of surges and offsetting the potential effects of new coronavirus variants that might spread through the population in the future.

Scripps Director of Health Data Sciences Nathaniel Brown said "computer modeling has become a standard and critical tool that we use on an ongoing basis to operate our hospitals and clinics”. According to Brown, the technology has allowed the system to focus on the needs and staffing structure at each location, increased cooperation for transferring patients when needed, and anticipate how sites would be impacted in the coming two weeks. 

On Tuesday, county health officials reported a decrease of 22 people to 1,158 COVID-19 positive patients, and of those patients, 214 were in intensive care. The latest figures from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency reported 2,049 new positive COVID-19 tests and 21 more deaths associated with the virus.

There were 174 available ICU beds as of Tuesday. 

The cumulative totals throughout the county are 697,429 cases and 4,686 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Health officials continue to urge residents of vaccinations and to follow public health protocols such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and staying home when sick. 

More than 2.85 million, or 90.8 percent, of San Diego County residents age five and older are at least partially vaccinated and more than 2.51 million, or 79.9 percent, are fully vaccinated.

The county has more than 400 vaccination sites including pharmacies, medical providers, clinics, and county locations. Appointments can be made and sites can be found by calling 833-422-4255 or visiting the MyTurn or websites.

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