Dr. Peter Beilenson, the county’s director of health services, last week reported that the county experienced an increase in hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Beilenson, who made his comments during a June 15 telephone conference with U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, addressed that increase.

“We have 28 hospitalizations, 11 of which are in the (intensive care unit), which is up a bit from where we were at our best, which is eight hospitalizations and two ICU admissions, about two and a half weeks ago,” he said.

Although these COVID-19-related hospitalizations occurred with the recent reopening of businesses, Beilenson noted that those hospitalizations were determined to mostly come from non-business sources.

“I can tell you that the cases that ended up in the hospital, in the ICU are due almost exclusively to four large gatherings: two birthday parties, a funeral and a church gathering outside of a church,” he said.

“We know that most of the hospitalizations in the ICU recently have not been due to businesses that have not been following guidelines, nor the protests, by the way. We only have three cases related to the protests that we know of to date.”

Beilenson referred to the new hospitalization cases as a “blip up” in otherwise positive figures.

“We’ve seen a steady drop from the first of April when we had 77 hospitalizations, which about 25 of them were in the ICU, all the way down to that eight (hospitalizations) and two (in ICU patients) about two weeks ago,” he said.

As of June 19, the county recognized 1,976 COVID-19 cases, including 151 cases in Elk Grove.

Beilenson mentioned that in that total, countywide number of cases, well more than 1,000 people have overcome the virus.

The county has significantly increased its testing for COVID-19, Beilenson noted.

“We have a lot more testing available than we did even four or five weeks ago, which has made a big difference, and has helped to identify more cases,” he said. “So, what we really care about is not so much the cases that we have – because a lot of them are asymptomatic or don’t have symptoms – but those that are hospitalized and particularly those that go to the ICU.”

There are currently seven community sites in the county where people can be tested for COVID-19.

With the reopening of many businesses, Beilenson urged county residents to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

“If you’re going to be sociable – and we’re trying to make it easier for people to be sociable – we also have to be sensible,” he said. “That means following the guidelines, that means not having large gatherings, that means wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart.”

Beilenson also stressed the importance of wearing face coverings, which Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 18 ordered mandatory in public settings in the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“(Face coverings are not) just to protect people if you’re sick from getting it, but it’s also helpful for the other person, as well,” he said.