Emergency Department sees record number of patients

Increase in patients seeking Covid-19 testing is pushing department to new highs


UC Davis Medical Center providers treated more than 300 patients in the Emergency Department (ED) yesterday  — an all-time high.

During the holiday season, it is common for visits to the ED to increase due to the flu, traffic accidents, and patients with chronic diseases. However, this holiday season visits have increased more than usual due to the influx of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.

“This week we have definitely seen a big surge of patients in our Emergency Department, which is typical for this time of year because people try to tough it out and avoid coming in during the holidays,” said Daniel K. Colby, assistant professor and co-medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine. “We are always ready to care for patients in any emergency, but the influx of Covid-19 symptom patients seeking testing is pushing us to record highs.”

According to the Sacramento County Public Health COVID-19 Case Dashboard, the seven-day average of positive cases for the virus has jumped from 196 at the beginning of December to 360 entering last weekend The percentage of ED visits for COVID-19 in hospitals across Sacramento has climbed steadily since the beginning of the month. Last week, 4.5% of visits were related to COVID-19, the highest since September.

“We have plenty of surge measures in place and are working hard to treat every patient, but this is stressing our capacity,” added Colby. “I would encourage people looking to get tested for COVID-19 to seek out standard testing avenues first.”

The Sacramento County Department of Health Services is partnering with local community agencies to provide free Community-Based COVID-19 Testing Sites for Sacramento County residents. People can pre-register for tests and walk-ups are also accepted.

Colby also encouraged people to continue taking preventive measures against COVID-19, including:

  • Wear a mask in indoor settings
  • Practice social distancing
  • Get vaccinated

“We all want to get together with friends and family at this time, but with this new surge we must continue the preventive strategies that we have learned work over the last year and a half of the pandemic,” said Colby. “We need to strongly encourage preventive measures in the community and most importantly urge those who have not been vaccinated to get their vaccine, and those who have been vaccinated to get their booster.”