COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen significantly in the Inland Empire and Central Valley, bringing new concerns about whether the shift represents a precursor to a wider spike in COVID-19 in California as the winter holidays approach.

Across the state, both cases and hospitalizations hit a plateau after months of decline. Hospitalizations have remained fairly flat in some areas with relatively high vaccination rates, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County.

But in some areas with lower vaccination rates, such as Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno counties, conditions are deteriorating, with hospitalizations up by more than 20% in recent weeks. And even some places with relatively high vaccination rates are seeing COVID-19 hospitalizations tick upward; in Orange County, COVID-19 hospitalizations are up by 16% since Halloween.