As COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations increase across the U.S., doctors and state health officials are expecting a holiday surge in California and are asking people to remain vigilant.
“We will definitely see more COVID infections, and it’s just because people are going to be inside, and they’re going to spread it,” said Dr. Davey Smith, who is the head of infectious disease and global public health at UC San Diego Health.
Smith points to last year’s surge in cases as an example of what to expect this season, and is also expects a significant number of flu cases.
“Our rates just took off with COVID, and our hospitals were the busiest they’ve ever been, and that’s just what happens in winter with respiratory viruses,” Smith said.
Between October and December last year, COVID-19 cases in California increased nine-fold, according to state health officials.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom noted recently that 27 states have experienced a 10% increase in cases in the last week.
“States are struggling because people are taking down their guard or claiming mission accomplished,” the Governor said, making a push for booster shots.
While California’s case rates have been stable, the exception has been in the Central Valley, where vaccination rates are lower. In Fresno, the current hospitalization rate is quadruple that of Southern California counties, according to state health officials.
Officials in the Central Valley this week made a plea to make it easier to transfer patients to less-impacted areas.
“During the pandemic, we were very good at moving patients around where we needed to," Smith said, "and I’m sure that will happen in the Central Valley. But I am sure that will we be busy over the winter with COVID and probably the flu as well.”
Smith said it’s likely the cases in surrounding areas will eventually impact San Diego.
“If there’s an outbreak going on in the Central Valley or Orange County, then we’re going to see it here in San Diego," Smith said. "We’re expecting to see those patients that might have picked up that infection outside of San Diego, and those might be the same exact people that show up at your Thanksgiving Day table.”
Smith recommends that families gather outside whenever possible. He also strongly encouraged those with compromised immune systems to get the booster shot.