SAN DIEGO – San Diego County may be just weeks away from a spike in COVID-19 cases as federal public health officials Monday said the omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.
“This is going to be a no joke thing in terms of numbers of cases,” said Dr. Louise Laurent, a UC San Diego scientist and professor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
Laurent leads COVID-19 testing on campus, telling FOX 5 that advanced testing shows some 75% of new cases are omicron.
“It’s going to have really important public health consequences in the next few weeks,” she said.
This past weekend, the university reported an “unprecedented” spike in viral load in wastewater collected from San Diego County’s primary wastewater treatment facility. The system effectively acts as an early warning system and according to San Diego County’s public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, “confirms prior county reports that omicron is already here and circulating in our community”
“The trajectory of omicron in all of our different measures is dramatically faster,” Laurent said.
She said that indicates omicron is more contagious than the delta variant.
Facing another COVID surge, public health experts are urging San Diegans to roll up their sleeves once again.
“Boosters are really important for omicron,” UCSD infectious disease specialist Dr. Davey Smith said.
County public health officials Monday reported 1,447 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths, as the cumulative number of cases since the pandemic began crossed the 400,000 threshold. A total of 16,442 new tests were reported to the county Monday. A total of 5.1% of all tests returned positive for the virus over the past week.
More than 2.72 million county residents, around 86.5% of all eligible residents, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 2.42 million San Diegans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing roughly 76.9% of eligible residents,
In addition, 601,951 booster shots have been administered in the region.
Smith said because omicron is heavily mutated, it’s more likely to infect people even if they’re vaccinated. But he said booster shoots literally boost immunity, so even if you catch the virus you’re more likely not to get deathly ill.
Click or tap here to see no-cost COVID-19 testing sites in San Diego County. Vaccination locations in the county are available here as well as through the federal government’s vaccination website, vaccines.gov.
City News Service contributed to this report.