By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant continue to surge, hospital leaders are concerned with what that means for future treatment.

“We are on the precipice of what will likely be the most challenging moment of this pandemic to date,” explained President and CEO of California’s Hospital Association, Carmela Coyle “In addition to COVID, people are still in need of hospital care.”

READ MORE: 18-Year-Old Dies After Rescuers Pull Him From American River Near Ancil Hoffman Park

CBS13 wanted to know how this surge compares to the peak of the pandemic last winter. Last December, 22,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide compared to 14,000 this week. Coyle explained the stress on the hospital system is more complicated than current numbers.

“We expect to have three times more of COVID patients as we do today, so we are heading into uncharted territory,” Coyle said.

Sacramento County posted record COVID hospitalizations at 547 hospital patients this week from a previous peak record of 518 in December 2020. According to LA Times data, Kaiser has 150 COVID patients in Sacramento County. In a statement to CBS13, Kaiser said:

“The surge of new infections nationally is the steepest we have seen since the start of the pandemic. We are using all options available to maintain hospital and ambulatory care staffing so we can meet the needs.”

READ MORE: Loud Party Broken Up By Deputies In Lodi; 1 Hurt In Shooting As People Left Area

Even with the increase in Sacramento, there are still more ICU beds. The county once had no available ICU beds and set up space at Sleep Train Arena. As of Monday, there are 72 available ICU beds county-wide.

“So, we have many, many more people who are infected with the omicron virus. And even if it is a small slice in need of hospital care, it is far more than what we saw during the delta surge,” explained Coyle.

Not all counties are seeing the same spike. San Joaquin is still below peak numbers at 249 hospitalizations compared to 340 last January.

According to Coyle, the next four to six weeks here in the state are expected to be the most crucial. Both Kaiser and UC Davis Health have been deemed state surge hospitals. The distinction allows hospitals to hire additional staff with state funding.

MORE NEWS: Russian Soldier Sentenced To Life In Prison In Ukraine Conflict's First War Crimes Trial

UC Davis Health expects to bring in additional staff beginning in late February.