When Will the Omicron Surge Peak in California? – The New York Times

January 18, 2022 by No Comments

Over the past week or so, new coronavirus infections have begun to fall in parts of the United States where the Omicron variant first proliferated: Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Washington, D.C.

California, hopefully, won’t be far behind.

Based on what we know from other countries hit by Omicron, a steep rise in new cases typically lasts one month and then begins to plummet, as my colleague David Leonhardt recently explained.

Outbreaks of the Delta variant, by contrast, typically led to two months of rising cases.

In New York State, the Omicron surge began its sharp ascent in early December and appears to have peaked on Jan. 9, according to The New York Times’s coronavirus tracker.

In California, the Omicron-fueled rise in cases started later, in mid-December. The state is now reporting a staggering 119,000 new cases per day, many times greater than the previous high.

But if our Omicron surge plays out the way it has elsewhere, infections should begin to drop here by the end of the week. A model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that new cases in California will crest by midweek.

Already, wastewater samples in parts of the Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, Sacramento and San Francisco, show a decline in the presence of the coronavirus over the past 10 days, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.

Coronavirus levels in sewage are often an early indicator of emerging trends. The virus can be detected in wastewater before an infected person develops symptoms, gets tested or is counted as a positive case.

“You’re starting to see not just parts of the globe — South Africa and the U.K. — but even parts of this country where we’re starting to see in the last three or four days some case leveling,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference last week. “That’s going to happen here in the state of California as well.”

The Times’s coronavirus tracker shows what appears to be a plateau in cases in California over the past week, but it’s too early to draw clear conclusions. There may also be delays in reporting because of the holiday weekend.

Even under the hopeful scenario that the spread of Omicron slows this week in California, the surge is far from over. Peaking would mean we have reached the halfway point.

There will be as many new infections on the way down as they there were on the way up, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on Twitter on Sunday. He also said that he believed California’s Omicron surge was flattening.

Jha and others warn that it will be many weeks before we’re able to reduce the strain on our health care system. Because it usually takes several days for an infected person to become ill enough to require hospitalization, the number of people in California hospitals will increase for weeks.

Currently, about 14,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 across California, according to state data.

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Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/us/omicron-california.html

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