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Cases and hospitalizations increase during holidays, omicron variant

Posted at 3:03 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 21:11:44-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego County now has 6 omicron cases. On Wednesday, the county reported seeing 578 new cases, 25 hospitalizations, and 4 deaths.

These are numbers that some doctors find concerning, with the holidays not even in full swing.

As Dr. Olulade tells 10News, we could see a surge upon a surge. The unvaccinated are still the most vulnerable, but the omicron variant, as Dr. Olulade explains poses a threat to us all.

In the last 14 days, Dr. Abisola Olulade, says that there has been a 16% increase in hospitalizations, a 12% increase in ICUs. It's numbers that may seem low, but as Dr. Olulade describes, they hold a weight of concern, “We haven’t seen the effect of the December holidays, we haven’t seen the effect of the New Year, so we can absolutely expect that to get worse.”

Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Christian Ramers, says that is already the case.

“Those 6 cases are the tip of the iceberg, to be honest. UCSD is reporting a lot more than that, and those will come out in the next couple of days," says Dr. Ramers. "What we have seen in the UK and England is that things grow exponential very quickly, and that’s because the infectiousness is about two to three times greater than Delta.”

Dr. Ramers says the difficulty with this new variant is not knowing its severity. He says South Africa believes based on their cases, that omicron is 29% less likely to hospitalize adults, but possibly 20% more likely to hospitalize children.

“I think we should still treat it as COVID," explains Dr. Ramers. "Omicron is not just like the cold.”

Health experts believe those best protected are those with hybrid immunity, meaning those who have been vaccinated and also have a prior infection to COVID and therefore have antibodies. Another group that is best protected against this virus, is those who get a booster.

“3 may be the new two," shares Dr. Olulade, a Family Medicine specialist at Sharp Rees-Stealy. "Meaning everyone should get a booster as soon as possible, and the rates of that in our own county are only at about 23%.”

Dr. Ramers says that state models predict hospitalizations could double in a month. With hospitalizations already rising because of COVID and other illnesses, it's important to look ahead.

“You know people are irritated about it," shares Dr. Ramers. "They just want it to be over. It’s not over, and we are headed into a very tough time in the winter, where we could have really major surges with this very infectious version of the virus that causes COVID.”

Dr. Ramers also works with monoclonal therapy. Friday his office had 200 voicemails from people looking to receive treatment. Dr. Ramers says he is worried about overburdening but is happy that individuals are seeking methods for protection.

Dr. Abbie describes the multiple methods of protection against COVID, like driving a car. A booster shot is similar to a seatbelt, the best thing to keep you safe. But there are also airbags against this virus: at-home testing as well as mask-wearing.