More than three months following the massive drop-off in the number of new COVID-19 cases following the Omicron variant spike in late 2021 and January 2022, California has continued to keep COVID-19 cases low despite a recent number of new cases.
Since March, the average number of new daily cases has only gone up from an average of 4,000 a day to just over 7,000 a day. While that makes the rate average higher than where it was a year ago, it is no where near the over 100,000 new cases a day that struck California in mid-January, or even the 40,000 a day seen in January of 2021. Deaths have also plummeted, with California now only having 12 a day, far less than from even a month ago.
However, due to the BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 variants, cases have been climbing. In LA County alone, an average of over 2,000 new cases a day have been reported. Health officials have noted that, with better weather and school ending soon for many, the number of meetings and people out and about have gone up, leading to a natural rise in new cases. Many also warned that, with current trends, the number of new cases could translate to a bump in cases similar to the Delta surge last year.
“We are also seeing a pretty significant uptick in reports of outbreaks, from schools, work sites and other congregate facilities,” explained LA County COVID-19 Director Dr. Sara Cody at a press conference on Tuesday in San Jose. “Many of them are related to social gatherings. It’s spring — school is ending and people are gathering, and COVID is spreading.”
“What we’re seeing now is similar to what we were seeing in mid-February, and it’s more than what we were seeing at the height of the Delta surge” from last summer. And we’re just beginning to see some early signs yet that this may be translating to an uptick in hospitalizations. Even if you got Omicron during the Omicron surge, you can still get COVID again, unfortunately.”
“Even though these new variants spread so quickly, and it’s getting increasingly difficult because of that to prevent infection, it’s still worth preventing infection. That’s because if you’re sick, you’re gonna miss work, you’re gonna miss school, you might expose somebody else who’s not going to do well with COVID.”
Despite the rise of variant cases and some concern, other officials have noted that this may be COVID-19s last big push before moving on to less harmful variants, similar to how the Spanish Flu was slowly phased out in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s.
“California has over 83% of its population vaccinated, with so many people already getting COVID-19 at least once as well, especially with Omicron,” nurse and COVID-19 healthcare center setup consultant Carmela Garcia told the Globe on Tuesday. “We should still play it safe, but what we have been seeing is things gradually fading away. I cannot begin to tell you how stressful it was being a nurse from March of 2020 to only a few months ago, what with so many patients coming in.”
“We’re still taking precautions, but with mask requirements and vaccination requirements now gone for most places, and barely any rise, I think we have the light at the end of the tunnel finally. I’ll caution that we should still be careful and still do common sense things like wash hands, and of course keep an eye out in case there is another nasty variant coming in. But most people are now carrying on like it was pre-pandemic. Besides some people still wearing masks, you can’t really tell anymore in most places. It’s not all clear just yet, but it’s not shelter in place anymore either.”
New cases are expected to be monitored closely in the coming weeks as more cases on average may occur in the lead-up to the Memorial Day weekend.
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