SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A surge in COVID cases hitting San Diego County has public health experts worried that a rise in hospitalizations and deaths could be on the way.
The Omicron variants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1, which are even more contagious than the variant that caused a winter surge in the U.S., are responsible for the recent increase in cases across the county — rivaling numbers seen in the Delta wave late last summer. For example, confirmed cases surpassed 1,500 per day for three days straight in late May.
“The respite we get between surges seems to be decreasing,” said Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, epidemiologist and the director of the San Diego State University Institute for Public Health.
“The question is: Where does it go from here?” she said. “Are we going to see something … close to the Omicron wave that we had in winter of this year? It all depends on what we choose to do as a society.”
Even more alarming, she said, data from wastewater sampling suggests that the number of new cases could be undercounted as more and more people rely on home-based testing. Looking at cities that preceded San Diego in the latest COVID-19 surge, she worries that hospitalizations and deaths could soon begin to rise.
“I think that probably is coming,” she said. “It’s frustrating.”
COVID has killed more than 5,300 people in San Diego County since the start of the pandemic. While hospitalizations hit their lowest point of the year in April, county data show those numbers rising throughout May.
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