By CBSLA Staff

ORANGE (CBSLA) — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Orange County, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, and emergency room doctors at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange said they have noticed the uptick.

Doctors at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange say they have noticed a surge in COVID patients. (CBSLA)

“What we’re seeing today over, you know, last couple weeks is the result of gathering of unvaccinated patients probably around Fourth of July holiday,” Dr. Brian Lee said. “Definitely transmissibility is between the highest risk people [who] are unvaccinated people who are not masking and gathering together.”

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Lee called the increase a “minor spike.” He said that in June, there were fewer than 10 COVID-19 patients seen at the hospital compared to the last few weeks where the number has doubled to more than 20 people — many with more contagious variants.

“Pneumonia and loss of oxygen, that comes later on,” he said. “That comes in the second week, so typically around day eight of illness is when we’re seeing patients seeking care in the emergency room because they really can’t breathe and they need supplemental oxygen, and that can last anywhere from eight to 14 to 20 days.”

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Lee said he expects to see another jump around Labor Day and again in the winter when there is also, typically, a surge in flu cases.

“COVID is another respiratory virus, so with more and more people indoors and closer together, we can see higher numbers,” he said.

Lee said that while thousands of variants have been discovered, the vaccines currently in use have been effective against the major variants. He also said 95% of the people admitted to the hospital with COVID were unvaccinated.

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On Thursday, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported 304 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and two new deaths. The daily positivity rate was 3.3%.