coronavirus pandemic

Experts Warn Omicron Wave Far From Over as Cases Start to Level Off in California

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Despite signs that omicron may be leveling off in California, health experts say the variant is just as infectious now as it was 10 days ago.

They added that the number of people getting hospitalized hasn’t yet reached its peak.

“Remember what the peak means is that we're halfway through this. So, we have another exact same number of cases to anticipate,” said Dr. George Rutherford, professor of Epidemiology at UCSF.

He added that the more COVID-19 cases there were, the more hospitalizations there will be.

"Hospitalizations are still growing. Hospitalizations often lag behind the changes in case counts by a week, week and a half, so we should expect to see the peak hospitalizations somewhere towards the end of next week. Hopefully,” Rutherford said.

According to recent state data, California is nearing its pandemic record of 55,000 people hospitalized—for all reasons. Data shows COVID-positive patients account for a huge portion of that number.

As of Thursday, more than 15,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide—the highest since January of last year. But it’s unclear how many of them were admitted because of COVID or tested positive after being admitted for something else.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center says it too is experiencing an increase in people hospitalized. But most of those patients aren’t very sick.

“At this time, hospitalizations of patients admitted because of COVID-19 have remained constant for the past five days. All three hospitals in our system are admitting fewer patients with severe respiratory disease," officials said in a statement.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center added that it canceled elective surgeries through the end of this month.

Rutherford said the most important thing right now is for everyone to remain proactive.

“What the real threat is to our health is the hospital systems will collapse. And that's what we really have to worry about. The case counts are helpful in predicting the load on the hospitals. But the bottom line is we have to keep the hospitals sufficiently staffed, at sufficient capacity, to take care of people with everything else," he said.

Rutherford said what hospitals can't tolerate right now is twice as many people coming in because they weren't careful and taking the necessary precautions such as vaccinations, boosters, masks and avoiding large crowds in public places.

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