San Diego Hasn't Reached Thanksgiving COVID-19 Transmission Peak, Although Cases Nearly Doubled: Doctor

Health officials in San Diego don't believe the omicron variant is responsible for the spike

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If you’re planning to attend any holiday gatherings, you might want to start thinking about how to do it safely.

San Diego County had a recent spike in COVID cases and health leaders attribute it to Thanksgiving gatherings.

The highly transmissible Delta variant is still out there. Omicron has been detected in San Francisco and Los Angeles, though not yet in San Diego.

“We’ve actually been seeing a trend that is going up steadily in terms of hospitalizations, even ICU stays have gone up,” Sharp Rees-Stealy physician Abisola Olulade, said.

Positive coronavirus tests reported in San Diego County spiked on Friday, surging into four figures and nearly doubling the number of cases in the preceding days.

"The county health and human services agency is reporting 1,153 COVID-19 cases, up from case numbers in the 600s on the prior two days," authorities said.

San Diego health officials think a spike in COVID-19 cases is attributable to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Despite concerns about the new omicron variant of the novel coronavirus -- a case tied to the mutation was reported in Los Angeles on Thursday -- authorities are laying blame for the increase on Thanksgiving gatherings, not the new mutation.

Dr. Olulade believes we’ll see even more case increases, which tend to peak 2-3 weeks after holiday celebrations.

“You have to think about what your level of risk is,” Olulade said. “The safest thing would be to celebrate with people who are vaccinated and for you yourself to be vaccinated. If you are gathering with people that are not yet vaccinated, it’s better to do it outdoors in an area that is well ventilated.”

At this point, no additional lockdowns or restrictions are expected. So, the CDC recommends safer ways to celebrate the holidays:

  • Get vaccinated or a booster
  • Wear a mask, even if vaccinated to prevent spreading the virus to others
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces and do not host or attend gatherings if you’re sick or have symptoms
  • Social distance
  • Wash hands frequently

Saturday, NBC 7 spoke with people about whether they plan to alter their holiday traditions.

“We usually have a large gathering for Christmas,” Chula Vista resident John Rue said. “This year, I’m not quite sure how it’s going to turn out.”

Adrianne Shaw’s family is traveling to Hawaii for Christmas.

“Last year, it was altered. This year, we are traveling,” Shaw said. “We’ve done our booster shots, we’re taking our flu shots, we’re doing everything that we can do in order to be able to travel.”

The influx increases the county's cumulative total cases to 387,203. The last time more than 1,150 cases were reported was Sept. 10, when 1,188 cases were identified.

San Diego County reported four additional deaths on Thursday, increasing the total to 4,350 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients hospitalized in San Diego County increased from 292 on Wednesday to 298, according to the latest state figures. Of those patients, 84 were in intensive care, unchanged from Tuesday.

A total of 22,928 tests were reported to the county on Thursday, with 4.1% returning positive.

The number of county residents who have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine is now nearly 2.66 million — or 84.7% of residents age 5 and older.

More than 2.36 million people, or 75.1% of residents 5 and older, are fully vaccinated. Roughly 460,110 San Diego County residents 18 years of age or older have received a booster dose.

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