California officials continue to be very concerned about how the explosion of coronavirus cases is hitting hospitals already overwhelmed by staff shortages due to infected workers, forcing operations to be canceled and worsening 911 ambulance response times.
But there is also hope that the Omicron wave may start to flatten out in the coming weeks, providing some relief.
Already, parts of the globe that saw Omicron explode see the wave retreat or flatten out.
New York sees potential early signs of having peaked. In the seven-day period ending Sunday, it reported an average of 90,000 cases of coronavirus a day. On Wednesday, it reported about 71,000 cases a day, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
The nation’s capital has also experienced a flattening. And Britain’s rise may have risen a week ago. In the week ending January 5, the UK reported an average of 195,000 cases a day; on Wednesday, it reported about 149,000 daily cases.
“We hope we will follow a similar trend to New York City, Washington, DC: Plateau and then start a steep fall within a few weeks, but no way to predict it at this point,” LA County Public Health Director Barbara said. Ferrer Thursday.
“One thing is for sure, we are still rising. We are not on the plateau,” Ferrer said.
The county reported 45,076 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, nearly obscuring the one-day record set on Sunday. Over the past week, LA County has confirmed nearly 288,000 new cases – roughly equivalent to the total population of Torrance and Pasadena.
Over the past seven days, LA County has averaged about 41,000 new cases a day, a pandemic record. That’s more than the previous week’s 25,000 daily cases and last winter’s maximum of 16,000 cases a day.
California also still reports a record number of cases of coronavirus. For the seven-day period ending Wednesday, the state had an average of 114,000 new cases a day. That’s almost double the previous week’s 63,000 daily cases and far greater than last year’s peak of 46,000.
Northern California’s most populous county, Santa Clara, has recently observed signs of reduced levels of coronavirus in feces collected in its wastewater.
Early data suggests high levels of coronavirus in sewage peaked last week among samples taken from sewage treatment plants in San Jose, Palo Alto and Gilroy, and flattened out in Sunnyvale, according to data published on the county’s public health department website. But several days of analysis are needed; it is also possible that the decrease may come from random fluctuations in data.
Still, officials are “cautiously optimistic that this is a sign of things to come,” Michael Balliet, deputy director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, said in an interview. Corona levels detected in wastewater have been a reliable tip for trends that emerge earlier than the case counts.
Even with the downward trend, Balliet said, there are still very high concentrations of coronavirus in sewage compared to levels for most of last year.
“We really encourage society to continue to be diligent about getting their vaccinations, getting their boosters, wearing a mask,” he said.
Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts have not detected a drop in the level of coronavirus in their wastewater, according to data published on their website Tuesday.
However, California’s COVID-19 data models suggest that the transmission rate of coronavirus may already have peaked. The California COVID Assessment Tool estimates a high rating on December 29, calculating that each infected person transmitted the virus to 1.72 others.
The model now estimates that the transmission rate is 1.35, which means that the virus is still spreading fast, but not so fast. The rate must be below 1 for the increase to decrease.
The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model projects that daily number of Californians infected peaks this week. The model suggests that by mid-February, new infections could be 15% of this week’s levels, roughly the same as mid-December.
Even when the infection trend reverses, it will still take weeks before the full rage of the Omicron wave disappears. Throughout the pandemic, officials have noted that an increase in cases will inevitably trigger similar increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths a few weeks later. For example, the institute estimates that the number of hospitalized coronavirus-positive patients will peak at the end of January.
When it comes to hospitalizations and deaths: “The sad thing is that when we see these increases, they are likely to continue for a few weeks after the cases are plateau or start to fall,” Ferrer said.
The number of coronavirus-positive people in LA County hospitals is still rising. There were 4,175 on Wednesday, more than quadrupling the number on Christmas Day, but about half of last winter’s peak.
And although much has been said about Omicron causing less serious illness, the burden on hospitals is still rising. Part of that has to do with greater demand for non-COVID-19 care this winter, as well as COVID-19 patients who still need hospitalization even though they do not need intensive care treatment.
Ferrer said she believed there are still people infected with the Delta variant, who have been dying at LA County hospitals. The county reported 39 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday and 45 Thursday. The latter is the highest daily death rate recorded during the fall and winter.
Over the past week, the county has had an average of 24 reported COVID-19 deaths a day, up from about 14 a month ago.
“Many people are sick for a while, and many are hospitalized for a while before they die, so it’s likely that most of the deaths we see are still related to Delta, though not completely,” he said. Ferrer.
The number of hospital admissions for all reasons is also increasing and has reached 15,000 in LA County. That’s close to the top of 16,500 from last winter’s rise, Ferrer said.
COVID-19 patients also make up an increasing proportion of LA County’s intensive care patients, almost 25%. That figure was 10% around Christmas. During the summer’s Delta rise, that number peaked at 20%, and last winter it reached a maximum of 70%.
There is also an increase in the percentage of patients on ventilators who have COVID-19. About 20% of ventilated patients now have COVID-19; that figure was 10% last month. The latest figure is the same as the summer rise and is a third last winter’s peak.
“This means that Omicron not only causes an increase in the overall census in hospitals, but it also leads to increases in the proportion of intensive care units and ventilated patients,” Ferrer said. “And while fortunately it is not at levels we saw during last winter’s rise, these numbers serve as a stark reminder that for an increasing number of people, Omicron is causing serious illness.”
Recent results indicate that some early data suggesting that Omicron patients faced little or no need for mechanical ventilation may not provide a complete picture of what the variant may do as more people become infected.
LA County also adjusts its estimates for the percentage of coronavirus-positive patients who are in the hospital for COVID-19-related reasons compared to those whose infection status is a result of their hospital stay. Estimates show that almost 60% of coronavirus-positive patients admitted need COVID-19 care. Previously, it was estimated that about half of coronavirus-positive patients needed COVID-19 care.
The reason for the review, Ferrer said, is that the data is provided to scientists at the time a patient is discharged. And patients who need COVID-19 treatment stay longer in the hospital than coronavirus-positive patients whose infections are random to the cause of their hospital stay.
California officials and experts continue to stress that with Omicron spreading so fast, the public should take precautions against becoming infected.
Although an Omicron infection on average results in less likelihood of hospitalization, California still estimates that about 4.5% of residents will require a hospital stay with this virus strain. And, officials warn, it’s not clear how survivors will cope with prolonged COVID, which can result in illness lasting months or longer, nor how likely it is that children surviving Omicron will encounter multisystem inflammatory syndrome. or MIS-C, a rare but serious complication that can be fatal.
“Anyone who tells you that you can definitely assure someone that they will not have in the long run [consequences] from having an infection; everyone who tells you for sure that they know that this variant will give you immunity that will last forever and therefore you should go out and get infected – they do not know, “said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chairman “From the UC San Francisco Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.” Because the best virologists, the best epidemiologists, the best doctors do not know and disagree on these various topics. “
Bibbins-Domingo said she is still living her life and leaving her home, but that she is taking precautions to avoid becoming infected.
On Monday, Los Angeles County health officials urged residents to postpone unnecessary gatherings and avoid some activities – especially those with people who are dewormed, unvaccinated or at higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
The question comes just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekends. The lunar new year is also just around the corner, February 1st.
County rules regarding events like the Super Bowl remain unchanged. Large outdoor events can continue with participants 5 years and older who must either be fully vaccinated or show a recent negative coronavirus test and with masks worn by everyone 2 years and older except when actively eating or drinking.
Officials are also urging people to upgrade their masks. The most protective are N95, KN95 and KF94, and surgical masks are better than loose fabric masks alone. A surgical mask, commonly called a blue mask, can be made even better by placing a fabric mask on top that tightens the fit.
“When there is so much transfer – and it will take a while before transmission drops really low – people at high risk really need to avoid non-essential activities with others,” Ferrer said. “It just does not make sense to go to parties if you are an elderly person, if you are someone with serious underlying health problems, if you have any kind of immunity problems.”