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KPBS Midday Edition

COVID hospitalizations rise statewide as California creeps toward a potential winter spike

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Cal Fire in Julian, Calif. Feb. 3, 2021.
Matt Hoffman
A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Cal Fire in Julian, Calif. Feb. 3, 2021.

On Tuesday pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced they’re seeking emergency approval for booster doses of their vaccine for people 18 and older.

In addition, the White House is expected to announce Wednesday that 900,000 children have gotten their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

While the latest national milestone is encouraging, the concern is growing here in California as COVID hospitalizations are rising in regions with lower vaccination rates.

The potentially ominous spike in cases ahead of the holiday season combined with the ongoing issue of waning efficacy continues to give residents pause about how the fight against COVID-19 is going and what’s ahead.

Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, points to several countries in Europe as a possible look ahead as to what could happen if Americans let their guard down.

Nations where COVID misinformation has run rampant, particularly in Eastern Europe, have seen a high rate of spread as health and safety guidelines are rolled back.

Even more concerning than that, Topol said, is a resurgence in cases in parts of Western Europe that were previously regarded as being on the forefront in the fight against COVID.

Countries like Denmark, Belgium and Norway have all seen jumps in case rates in recent months.

"That's a horrible sign because these countries are better off than we are, so we should have a wake-up call that we are in for trouble," Topol said.

Topol joined Midday Edition on Wednesday with more about the potential surge the nation could face in the coming months.