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Uptick in COVID-19 cases across San Diego county

CBS 8 spoke to a public health expert to make sense of the upward trend in case numbers.

SAN DIEGO — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in San Diego County, but hospitalizations remain low. CBS 8 spoke to a public health expert to make sense of the upward trend in case numbers.

“What we’ve been seeing nationally and also in Southern California is an increase in cases,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, deputy public health officer for the County of San Diego.

According to the latest update from the county, 837 new cases were reported for last Wednesday, May 4th.  For the week prior, about 400 to 600 new cases were reported each day with a spike of nearly 1,000 confirmed cases on April 29. The uptick is a noticeable difference from early April when daily numbers were in the 200 to 300 range. So what’s causing this?

“Hard to say right now,” said Kaiser. “What we’re trying to figure out is whether this is another surge of omicron or something else. I know we certainly have plenty of omicron still circulating.”

One way the county tracks the virus is by gauging how much COVID-19 is in our wastewater and they’ve seen an uptick there as well.

“Wastewater surveillance has given us the ability to get a much more real-time picture of how much viral spread is going on in our neighborhoods,” said Dr. Kaiser. “This is not something we’re seeing specific to any one region, we’re seeing them increasing generally all over and we want people to be cognizant of that.”

New antiviral drugs like Pfizer’s Paxlovid are now widely available. If taken within 5 days of symptoms, the prescription pill can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by nearly 90%.

“We are getting more and more supply, so there is no longer a supply constraint of those oral medications,” said Dr. Jennifer Tuteur, chief medical officer for the County of San Diego.

With cases in San Diego County on the rise, the future is uncertain.

“It’s difficult to say exactly where this is going to peak and how quickly it will do so,” said Dr. Kaiser. “Right now our hospitals are able to handle the load.”

Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 remain relatively low for now, but our public health officials are constantly monitoring the data that comes in.

“I know people are really tired of COVID.  There’s a whole bunch of pandemic fatigue that’s set in and that’s real, but that also doesn’t mean that it goes away,” said Dr. Kaiser. “The minute you let your guard down, you could be the next one. Just be careful and that’s the best takeaway message that people can have.”

WATCH RELATED: Once hard to find, COVID pill Paxlovid now readily available in San Diego.