With the highly contagious Omicron variant sending coronavirus cases to unprecedented levels, California’s winter rise has entered another dangerous phase, prompting renewed calls from health officials to call back for festive plans and avoid crowded surroundings during New Year holiday weekends.
The warnings come as the nationwide number of recently confirmed coronavirus infections rose to a record high, and hospitalizations in California and elsewhere continue to rise.
Although officials said preliminary evidence increasingly shows that Omicron causes less serious illness than the still-widespread Delta variant – especially for otherwise healthy people who have been vaccinated – the number of people getting infected has raised alarms, as officials work to strengthen hospital capacity and ensure other vital services are not interrupted.
“We know the Omicron variant is airborne and highly portable, and that a combination of colder weather, indoor gatherings and holiday-related household mix is likely to result in an increase in cases,” California Department of Public Health officials said in a statement.
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