San Diego's COVID winter surge déjà vu
COVID-19 cases are surging again, just in time for the holidays, but very few people have gotten the latest booster.
Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s deputy public health officer, said the current situation is reminiscent of last winter’s surge. He said this week, the county will be reporting more than 4,800 COVID-19 cases and 1,600 flu cases, but that isn’t the whole story.
"This number is almost certainly a low estimate due to the amount of home testing that doesn't get reported," he said, adding that it's too soon to tell if cases are peaking or if the numbers will keep going up.
"But either way there’s still a lot of virus," he said. "In the last week about a person a week died from the flu and about two per day from COVID."
In preparation for holiday gatherings, the Biden administration is ramping up availability of critical medical supplies like masks and gloves. More mobile vaccination sites are being opened, and more free COVID-19 tests are being sent to households upon request.
Kaiser said those home tests are important, as more holiday gatherings will be happening. He offered other tips so you and your guests only spread holiday cheer — and nothing else: "Be mindful of the people in your family who wouldn’t do well with flu or COVID. Keep your guest list reasonable. Consider testing with a home test, especially if somebody vulnerable is likely to attend, (and) good hygiene matters for flu and other respiratory viruses, so wash up."
He also urged people to stay up on their vaccinations, both flu and COVID-19. He said only 18% of eligible people in San Diego County have received the new COVID-19 booster. "Yes, the vast majority of us are going to come out okay. But why roll the dice, especially when we’re finding out things like long COVID and other kinds of subtle long term effects of the virus?"
Kaiser said people with previous COVID-19 infections can get the vaccine without waiting, and he is urging people get it now. "The vaccine takes about a week or two for it to become effective which means that if you get it now you're right on time for the holiday season," he said.
Kaiser said bottom line, this booster is an important tool to save lives because some of the treatments aren't as effective with this current strain of the virus. "We need to keep getting the word out that the bivalent booster is necessary and truly saves lives," he said, "and as the virus changes we have to keep up and that's exactly what the bivalent COVID booster is designed to do."