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- American doctor, epidemiologist, and public health official
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA — Santa Clara County could see a “whole lot of omicron” in the near future, Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody warned during a news briefing Thursday afternoon.
The county has reported 10 confirmed cases of the omicron variant as of Thursday after announcing it had detected its first case last week. Of the cases, four people were unvaccinated, five were vaccinated but had not received a booster and one had just received a booster.
The 10 people were infected in different ways, including international travel, domestic travel and household contacts, according to Cody. Most are symptomatic, but none have been hospitalized.
The omicron variant has also been detected in all four sewer sheds that the county is monitoring, and Cody strongly indicated that omicron will continue to spread despite the county’s high vaccination rate.
“When I look around the corner ahead, what I see is a deluge of omicron,” Cody said. “What I see is perhaps one of the most challenging moments that we’ve had yet in the pandemic.”
Cody based her projections on the spread of omicron in Europe and other highly-vaccinated areas. She said that this is a particularly difficult time in the pandemic because while people have learned to live with the new reality of COVID-19 during the last two years, “we’re all a bit tired.”
While 80 percent of all county residents are fully vaccinated, just 44 percent of eligible residents have received a booster. Approximately 250,000 residents who are 50 years and over — the age bracket that is especially susceptible to variants — have yet to receive a booster shot.
“Two shots are not enough anymore,” said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s COVID-19 vaccine officer. “We know protection against infection from the vaccines declines over time, so booster doses are critical for everyone who was vaccinated at least six months ago.”
County health officials recommended that people traveling or gathering for the holidays get tested before traveling, upon return and again three-to-five days later.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent a deluge,” Cody said.
Visit sccfreevax.org for more information on vaccines.