Final December 15, as the unique Omicron wave gained critical momentum, California reinstituted a statewide indoor masks mandate. State Public Well being Officer Tomás Aragón stated the transfer was “so as to add a layer of mitigation because the Omicron variant, a Variant of Concern as labeled by the World Well being Group, elevated in prevalence throughout California, america, and the world and unfold way more simply than the unique SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Delta variant.” On the time, the state’s 7-day common price of check positivity was 2.6%.
At this time, the state is beset by one other Variant of Concern referred to as BA.5, a sublineage thought to have a development benefit no less than 4 instances that of the unique Omicron from December. CDC information signifies that, on the finish of final week, BA.5 and sister subvariant BA.4 accounted for about 68% of recent circumstances within the area comprised primarily of California, Arizona and Nevada. BA.5 accounts for the overwhelming majority of these circumstances and appears set to push out all different variants within the coming weeks.
California’s present 7-day check positivity price is 16.7%. That provides the present summer season surge the doubtful honor of getting the second-highest price of check positivity the state has seen in the course of the pandemic. It is second solely to the very peak of final winter’s Omicron wave. And it is nonetheless going greater.
Since BA.5’s elevated development price is essentially as a result of its potential to evade the safety offered by earlier an infection and — to a lesser extent — the safety offered by vaccination, the state can’t depend on vaccination in the identical method it might with the unique Omicron wave.
What’s extra, the three most regarding metrics to well being officers — hospital and ICU beds occupied by these contaminated with Covid and the typical variety of day by day Covid deaths — are already far above the place they had been earlier than Christmas.
The director of public well being within the state’s most populous county, Los Angeles, stated yesterday that she expects her county will transfer into the CDC’s “Excessive” degree Covid designation subsequent week because of the rising numbers. If LA stays in that class for 14 days, the county will reimpose a masks mandate in public locations.
Throughout the state, 35 of California’s 58 counties are additionally so designated by the CDC. Few of them have spoken about reinstituting masking. Norway has the state.
One seeming vibrant spot within the area’s scenario dims on nearer inspection.
Reported circumstances over the previous month, whereas steadily rising, haven’t jumped at practically the speed they did in December. The issue is, reported check outcomes have dropped dramatically since December as extra Californians use at-home kits, the outcomes of which aren’t captured in official reporting.
Due to that, White Home COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha instructed Lester Holt on NBC’s Nightly Information final evening, “There is no query in my thoughts that we’re lacking a overwhelming majority of infections proper now.”
Even with the restricted check reporting, the quantity recorded in California at this time — 13,000 new circumstances — is already 44% above the roughly 9,000 circumstances reported on December 15 of final 12 months. That, coupled with the Golden State’s sky-high check positivity and a way more infectious variant, doesn’t bode nicely.