Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images
Cases of the Omicron variant of covid-19 tripled in a week in Los Angeles County, bringing the new strain to a total of 15 confirmed infections.
On December 8, the county Department of Public Health identified 4 cases of Omicron while the first infection was discovered on December 1.
The official information released indicates that of the 8 new cases, 7 were symptomatic and none required hospitalization. Of the 8 people who were found to have Omicron, 5 had been fully vaccinated, but none had received the booster shot.
Likewise, one of those infected with Ómicron had made an international trip; and two of them reported travel outside of California.
What is more, 2 of the 8 cases of the new variant had already been sick with covid; and two of the infected live in the same house.
LA County Public Health confirmed in a statement that the Omicron variant is highly contagious, and that being fully vaccinated with both doses may not provide adequate protection against infection.
So they encouraged all who are eligible to get a booster shot as soon as possible and to continue wearing masks when in public places.
As COVID-19 cases in general continue to rise, efforts to provide the vaccine throughout the county, in the most diverse communities, are a priority.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in a press conference that the average number of deaths from covid is 1,100 per day in the country. This is an increase of 5% compared to the previous week.
“Tragically this week, there have been 800,000 deaths from the virus so far in the pandemic.”
On the Omicron variant, he said that at least 36 states in the nation; and more than 75 countries have confirmed cases.
“Although most cases continue to be attributed to the Delta variant, with 96% nationwide, the Omicron variant is estimated to account for 3% of infections in the United States.”.
In some areas of the country, such as New York and New Jersey, the CDC projects that Omicron may account for 13% of all cases.
He stressed that when looking at the data of contagion by Ómicron in other countries, it is anticipated that the cases will increase in the coming weeks in the United States.
“Early reports suggest that Ómicron is more contagious than Delta, with a doubling time of approximately two days.”
What does this mean as we approach the winter months when families gather for the holidays?
“It means that it is vital to get vaccinated; and if they are eligible, receive the booster”Said Dr. Walensky.
He added that given the increase in infections throughout the country, this also means that we must continue to use the mask indoors in public places, or in areas considered to have high community transmission.
“Vaccination, boosters, and masks are especially critical for the most vulnerable, including older adults, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems.”
Added that reports emphasize that booster vaccines increase protection, and “when they are administered, the protection works”.
Dec. 14 marked the first anniversary of the first covid-19 vaccine in the United States, and there are now more than 200 million Americans fully vaccinated and more than 55 million boosted.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser under the Biden administration and an infectious disease expert, added that studies indicate that two weeks after the third dose, the degree of protection against Omicron is substantially increased.
“So the message is clear, if you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated. And in the case of Ómicron, if you are fully vaccinated, give yourself the injection of the booster”He advised.