In response to new alerts about worsening COVID-19 conditions, health officials issued a worrying forecast of rising hospital admissions and the spread of the new variant of Omicron in California and beyond.
The majority of the confirmed Omicron cases in California – 38 – have been registered in Los Angeles County, which reported 3,730 new cases of the coronavirus from all variants, mostly Delta, on Saturday, and new cases were reported on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the county averaged just over 1,587 daily cases for the past week, up nearly 19% from two weeks earlier, according to the Times Tracker. The county’s daily positivity rate for those seeking a test has also increased from a seven-day average of 1.2% on Sunday to 1.7% on Saturday, health officials said.
The districts of Orange and Riverside reported their first cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant on Friday. In Orange County, the variant was found in a fully vaccinated man who developed a mild illness after traveling to another state, health officials said.
Officials believe that Omicron will soon become the dominant variant in the US, with cases still increasing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief advisor on the pandemic, told CNN the nation should be prepared for major hospital admissions and deaths.
“We are going to see significant stress on the hospital system in some regions of the country, especially those areas where vaccination is low,” he said.
When asked about vacation travel on NBC’s Meet the Press, Fauci added, I think people just need to be careful. Of course, there is always an increased risk of infection when traveling. This is only possible with respiratory diseases. But when people have to travel and want to travel for obvious family reasons, during this holiday season when you are vaccinated and you are upgraded and you take care when going to meeting places like airports to make sure you get your mask off, you should be fine walk.”
He said there would be breakthrough infections among those vaccinated. “There is no doubt about that. The difference between a vaccinated and booster person who has an infection and someone who has an infection who has never been vaccinated – a big difference in terms of the risk of seriousness, ”he added.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS, “One big message for today is that if you’ve had vaccines and a booster shot, you’re very well protected against Omicron, which is causing you serious illness. So anyone who listens to this, who is among the 60% of Americans who are eligible for a booster but haven’t got one yet, this is the week to get it. Do not wait.”
The variant, which has spread rapidly around the world since it was first identified in South Africa last month, appears to be gaining momentum in other countries and on the US east coast. In the New York and New Jersey areas, Omicron is estimated to account for 13% of new coronavirus cases, compared to 3% nationally. Public health officials in New York on Friday reported the highest total number of new coronavirus cases in the state in a day since the pandemic began.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are predicting that more than 1 million new cases of coronavirus could be registered during Christmas week. In contrast, there were around 500,000 new cases per week around Halloween.
Outbreaks of the virus have forced the postponement of sporting events, including the Rams ‘scheduled Sunday game against the Seattle Seahawks, which has been postponed to Tuesday, and the Ducks’ scheduled Tuesday game against the Calgary Flames, which has not yet been postponed.
California is already struggling with a vacation boost from the Delta variant.
Nationwide, hospital admissions related to COVID-19 have increased 16% since Nov. 24, and in much of Southern California the increases are worse.
“Unfortunately, after the Thanksgiving holiday, we’re seeing signs of a winter surge,” said LA County’s director of public health Barbara Ferrer last week. “The number of cases and daily hospital admissions are steadily increasing, and we assume that they will continue to increase with the start of the winter holidays.”
The Omicron threat adds another level of concern.
Omicron has now been detected in all sewage areas monitored by Santa Clara County, home of Silicon Valley, this week.
“What I’m seeing is perhaps one of the most difficult moments we’ve had in the pandemic so far. And I think it’s a challenge because it’s not what we expected, ”said Cody. “We have all learned to live with COVID in the past two years, and we are all a little tired. But I want you to know that I see a lot of COVID and a lot of Omicron when I look around the corner. “