While COVID case rates continue to see a significant decrease in the U.S. and in San Diego County, there has been a troubling surge in positive tests and hospitalizations in Europe, which in the past, has been a precursor to what may lie ahead.
“It’s plausible and possible it can happen here,” said Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine doctor with Sharp Healthcare.
Sign up for our Breaking news newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.
Olulade considers what’s happening in Europe to be a clear warning sign for the U.S.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“It’s telling us that we just didn’t learn from history," Olulade said. "We’re not learning the lessons we’re supposed to. Whenever restrictions are relieved, you inevitably see a rise in cases. What is concerning is their rise in hospitalizations."
Olulade said the trend in Europe suggests waning immunity; she's a strong proponent of booster shots.
“We need to really improve our booster program," Olulade said. "When you look at the number of people who have gotten a booster here in the States, it’s less than 50%."
According to Johns Hopkins University, the national booster rate is 44%.
While 93% of eligible San Diego County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, only 55% have gotten a booster. According to the county's COVID dashboard, 80% of eligible San Diego County residents are fully vaccinated.
“It may mean that we need to institute masking in certain places potentially," Olulade said. "We really have to look at the numbers, and start to prepare for a possible surge and not do it too late like we have in the past."
While Olulade looks at boosters and other precautions as a key to keeping businesses and schools open, it’s clear not everyone is ready to embrace a return to safety protocols.
“I’m over it," said Brenda Rod, who is visiting San Diego from Ohio. "I’m vaccinated. I’ve had COVID. I’m not wearing a mask if I don’t have to."
“I’m continuing to take all the precautions that are recommended by the CDC and all the scientific facts that are out there," said George Lopez of Vista. "I’ve been fully vaccinated. I wear a mask even when I go into the store and stuff like that."
“I’m going to continue to practice the safe practices I have been and not expect, necessarily, the government to determine what my lifestyle should be,” said Larry Klein of Las Vegas. "I know what precautions I need to take."
While precautions may continue to strike a nerve and stir debate, many medical experts say there is a clear warning sign coming from Europe.
“The way to prevent it is to be realistic about the fact that this can still spread," Olulade "So we have to learn to strike that balance, and instead of saying or pretending COVID is not here anymore, we have to be very honest with ourselves."