Officials hope that the California coronavirus surge will not last long. It has caused schools to close and left thousands without police, firefighters, teachers, and other health care workers.
“My hope is that, you know, by the time we get to February, we’re on the downside of seeing that massive amount of community transmission,”Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director, spoke Thursday.
California’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has soared five-fold in two weeks and hospitalizations have doubled. Los Angeles County, the state’s largest with 10 million residents, reported more than 37,000 new cases on Thursday, which was the highest level since the pandemic started.
The omicron variation, which was first identified in California in November, is responsible for the jump. According to health officials, the highly infectious mutation was spread by close contact, especially during holidays among people who are not vaccinated.
Officials said that vaccinations and booster shots had prevented many people from serious illness. The infection was not the reason for more than half of COVID-19-infected hospital patients. According to the county, most of them were being treated for unrelated conditions.
“We do see this as a surge that will be, it is our hope and belief, short-lived,”Michel Moore, Los Angeles Police Chief, stated Thursday that more than 800 firefighters and police officers were affected by the virus.
Moore claimed that officers who were struck by COVID-19 had to wait on average three weeks to return work.
San Francisco reported on Tuesday that 167 officers were quarantined and 135 firefighters — both representing about 8% of their forces — were absent due to COVID-19. Nearly 200 San Diego officers and other personnel were out Tuesday, which is a similar percentage to the rest of the department.
This has also led to long waits for COVID test results as parents are eager to return their children to school after the winter break. Although thousands of test kits have been distributed across the country to each county, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials in health have been criticized because of backlogs.
Many waited in line at the Long Beach test site on Thursday morning. Some were coughing and some were sneezing.
“I think it’s very much going out of control,”Salvador Barragan, after having self-administered his nasal swab. “I hope it calms down.”
Not only are lab tests harder to get amid record demand, officials say they’re taking longer to process because COVID-19 also has depleted the ranks of technicians.
Santa Clara County uses one processing lab to send samples to Texas. This is because there are not enough staff, Dr. Jennifer Tong at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said to the Bay Area News. Group.
Also, it is difficult to find off-the-shelf home tests.
School systems have been impacted by the virus surge. District officials announced that all 54 West Contra Costa Unified schools, east of San Francisco will close Friday and Monday.
Ryan Phillips, a spokesperson for the district, stated that more than 5,000 students have been absent every day this week. This represents almost a quarter the number of students enrolled in the district with 28,000 students.
One in six of San Francisco’s 3,600 teachers were out Thursday. Even with administrators, substitutes and others stepping in there weren’t enough teachers for every classroom, Superintendent Vince Matthews.
“This is the most challenging time in my 36 years as an educator,”Matthews spoke during a break while filling in for a sixth-grade science teacher. “We’re trying to educate students in the middle of a pandemic while the sands around us are consistently shifting.”
Nearly 900 teachers in San Francisco were called in sick on Thursday. A group of educators had called for a sickout, arguing that the school district hadn’t done enough to protect them during the surge. They want more testing and that all students wear medical-grade masks.
It wasn’t clear how many educators who called in sick took part or had the virus or were out caring for family members.
Jazmine Keel from Mission High School said that more than 70 teachers were part of the protest.
“There barely were even enough subs to take attendance,”She told KTVU-TV, although district officials said classes weren’t interrupted.
Similar sickouts were planned for Friday at the Oakland Unified Schools District. San Francisco’s online posting. ChronicleOakland schools were named by organizers “are facing the greatest crisis in living memory.”
“Staff and students sit in half-empty classrooms terrified that they will be the next to get infected and bring the disease home to their loved ones,”According to the press release.