California’s sneaky summer time COVID wave is reaching heights not seen in additional than a 12 months as extremely contagious strains of the virus proceed to unfold with the promise of a brand new vaccine days away.
The state’s check positivity price has now topped 14%, the best since July of 2022 and the fifth highest mark for the reason that pandemic started in early 2020, in accordance with the most recent California Division of Public Well being information.
Since federal and state authorities have stopped monitoring COVID case counts, the proportion of lab-processed COVID exams which can be constructive has change into the most effective indicators of how a lot the virus is spreading in the neighborhood, just like how influenza has been tracked traditionally.
The virus has been energetic from coast to coast, with some East Coast faculties requiring masks, and First Woman Jill Biden testing constructive on the finish of the Labor Day vacation weekend. In an look on the White Home Wednesday, President Biden induced some confusion by contradicting CDC tips that really useful he put on a face masks indoors in public for 10 days after being uncovered.
“Let me clarify to the press: I’ve been examined once more at the moment. I’m clear throughout the board,” Biden mentioned, holding up a black face masks. “However they maintain telling me, as a result of this must be 10 days or one thing, I’ve acquired to maintain carrying it. However don’t inform them I didn’t have it on once I walked in.”
Biden’s obvious flouting of his personal administration’s steerage signaled how the virus has change into much less harmful in comparison with earlier delta and unique omicron waves.
In California, hospitalizations have elevated up to now a number of weeks, however they’re nonetheless removed from document highs, with 1,600 hospitalized COVID sufferers final week in comparison with over 20,000 within the first winter surge in late 2020 and early 2021.
As of early August, there had been no notable enhance in deaths lately, with a gentle degree of round 9 or 10 COVID deaths on common every day since Might. Thus far this 12 months, 4,461 Californians have died from COVID in comparison with 17,214 by means of finish of August in 2022.
Extra safety is on the best way. The Meals and Drug Administration is poised as quickly as Friday or early subsequent week to approve new vaccines developed to guard towards the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant, a latest pressure though it’s not dominant. Nonetheless, the brand new varieties needs to be more practical than older vaccines: Medical trial information launched Wednesday suggests Moderna’s up to date COVID vaccine seems to generate a “robust human immune response” towards one specific new variant — the extremely mutated BA.2.86.
As positivity charges soar, different metrics additionally present the present wave is rising. “We see the same pattern in wastewater information,” mentioned Sarah Rudman, Deputy Well being Officer at County of Santa Clara Public Well being Division.
Public well being officers have been reminding the general public for a number of weeks that in occasions of excessive transmission, it’s best to masks indoors and in giant gatherings and extra so for these at greater danger. “They change into particularly robust suggestions at moments like this one,” mentioned Rudman.
“With COVID wastewater charges excessive at two of the 4 native sewer sheds, we do advocate that people masks when they’re indoors in public locations or in giant crowds … particularly for our most susceptible residents,” she mentioned.
Nonetheless, there are not any plans in Santa Clara County to implement any new measures past masking suggestions, Rudman mentioned. However there’s a standing public well being order that mandates masks in well being care amenities beginning Nov. 1 by means of the top of March within the county in the course of the busy flu season. Alameda County has an ongoing requirement for masking in expert nursing amenities.
“As we head into the winter months, that order will go into impact requiring masking in our hospitals, clinics, and expert nursing amenities to assist make certain our most susceptible residents are particularly properly protected,” Rudman mentioned.
Wire providers contributed to this report.