Local health officials are also urging San Diegans to get vaccinated and boosted to protect against the new dominant COVID-19 variant, omicron. With most COVID-19 infections in the U.S. now being omicron, there are concerns over what the winter months will bring.
“These vaccines work by keeping people out of the hospital. People who are vaccinated can still get infected. They have always been able to get infected. I know we’ve always been taught that if you’re vaccinated, you don’t get infected. These vaccines work to keep people out of the hospital,” said Dr. David “Davey” Smith, an Infectious Disease Specialist at UC San Diego Health.
He's not surprised omicron is now 73% of all new COVID-19 infections.
“These variants are going to continue to pop up until we can get more vaccines across the world. We’ve been lagging on that. We need to step it up,” Smith said.
Statistics from the CDC show the difference in cases and deaths between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
Among the unvaccinated, there are 6 deaths per 100,000 people. Among the vaccinated that drops considerably to 0.5., among those boosted it's 0.1 death rate.
In some parts of the U.S., omicron is now 90% of the cases. In California, about 60% of new cases are omicron.
“I do think there is a little bit of California good luck. Good weather keeps people outdoors than people in the Midwest and the northeast. As soon as people go indoors that’s just the best way for the virus to spread,” Smith said.
Despite our milder climate, Smith still suggests vaccination and watching out for our loved ones who have compromised immune systems.
“If you’re with someone who doesn’t have an immune response to a vaccine, or is maybe not vaccinated, then that’s something we should talk about and have those discussions before we get together because those are the people who are at most risk,” Smith said.
There have been cases linked to omicron in San Diego but no deaths have been reported so far.
Smith said he supports San Diego's indoor mask mandate, to reduce hospitalizations during the winter months.