Over the past two years, COVID-19 has followed a predictable, if not painful, pattern: when coronavirus transmission has rebounded, California has been flooded with new cases and hospitals have been severely stressed by a flood of critically ill patients, with the death toll staggering. .
But in a world full of vaccines and treatments, and healthcare providers being armed with knowledge during epidemics, the last wave is not stuck in that script.
Despite the widespread circulation of the coronavirus – the third-highest incidence of the last epidemic – the impact on hospitals has been relatively small. Despite the increase in transmission, COVID-19 mortality has remained low and stable.
And it has led to a large number of new sanctions and mandates being abandoned by the authorities.
In some ways, this is what it should be: as health professionals become better at identifying coronavirus, vaccinating against it, and treating symptoms, new growth in cases should not lead to a proliferation of serious diseases.
But today’s environment does not mean tomorrow’s basic. Coronavirus can mutate rapidly, potentially raising the public health landscape and the ability to respond differently.
UCLA Epidemiologist “One of the things that can be predicted in my mind about Covid is that it’s unpredictable,” said Robert Kim-Farley.
Although it is too early to say for sure, there are signs that the current wave is starting to subside. For the week ended Thursday, California reported an average of 13,400 new cases per day – down from the previous spike of about 16,700 daily cases, according to data compiled by the Times.
By comparison, last summer’s Delta Growth peaked at an average of about 14,400 new cases per day.
And more than 8,300 coronavirus-positive patients were admitted to statewide hospitals in a few days at the height of the delta – nearly three times as much as during the most recent wave.
The effect of each increase in intensive care units varies greatly. During Delta’s time, there were more than 2,000 coronavirus-positive patients in ICUs across the state. In the last wave, however, that daily census is still up to about 300.
That gap in hospital admissions illustrates how the epidemic has changed.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, “At the beginning of the epidemic, we were immediately getting easy access to game-changers vaccines, tests and therapeutics – and now we have those things,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“It simply came to our notice then. We have not done that,” he said. “What we have achieved is that we have reduced the risk, but we have not been able to eliminate the risk.”
And although hospital admissions have declined, overall, during the last wave, Ferrer noted that each infection still carries its own risks – not only serious illness, but also the possibility of prolonged COVID. Taking personal steps to protect yourself, she said, carries the added benefit of helping to keep people around you safe, including those at high risk of serious symptoms or those who work in regular contact with multiple people.
“For me, it makes it clear that laying down some security is the way to go about enjoying everything you want to have fun with,” she said.
California’s most restrictive effort to curb the coronavirus ended nearly a year ago, when the state celebrated its economic reopening by lifting almost all restrictions that provide the backbone of its epidemic response.
About a month later, with the then-novel Delta variant, parts of the state restored mask mandates in the hope of a blunt transmission.
Towards the end of the year, another new enemy will emerge: the Omicron version. This highly contagious strain has led to unprecedented viral outbreaks, sending case counts and hospital admissions and prompting authorities to reissue statewide mask mandates for indoor public spaces.
The anger of the two surgeons has frightened some, and others are advocating for the return of strict orders that restricted the movement of people and shut down large parts of the economy. However, California authorities did not resort to that option, and both waves came and went.
And during this last wave – fueled by the alphanumeric soup of omicron submarines including BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 – such aggression seems out of the table.
“I think, in the depths of my heart, until we see a new version that ignores our current vaccine safety, we don’t have to go back to the more rigorous equipment we used at the beginning of the epidemic when we didn’t have it. Vaccines, when we didn’t have trial access, Ferrer said in an interview.
During both Delta and Early Omicron augmentation, California carefully evaluated the unique features of each edition to determine how to better handle changes in virus behavior, and used the lessons of the past two years to access mitigation and optimization measures. Effective and time-relevant strategies. According to the state public health department.
“These lessons and experiences informed our approach to managing each growth and variation. In addition, additional tools for disease control were available during each subsequent growth, including Delta and Omicron Surge,” the department wrote in response to a Times inquiry. “So, instead of using the same mitigation strategies as before, CDPH focused on vaccinations, masks, testing, quarantine, improved ventilation and new treatments.”
The state has also abandoned its previous practice of setting special thresholds to tighten or loosen restrictions in favor of what it calls the “smarter” plan – which focuses on preparing lessons learned to make California a better shield against future growth or new variants.
“Each increase and each version brings unique features related to the specific conditions of our neighborhood and community,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement to the Times.
Chief among them, the department added, is vaccinated and promoted when qualified and wears high quality face masks during warranty.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends public indoor masking in counties with high COVID-19 community levels, the worst in the agency’s three-tier measurement. That class indicates that not only important community broadcasts but hospital systems can be stressed by coronavirus-positive patients.
“We’re definitely not at the level of these numbers where you would say, ‘Well, that’s it now, quotes, local, and we know business in general,'” Kim-Farley said. “I think, though, that this is probably a sign of what we can see in the future. We will see lower levels in the community, people can relax and keep their guard down a bit. But there will be other times when we can see surgeons coming.” That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
As of Thursday, 19 counties in California were at the highest community level – Almeida, Butte, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Kings, Lake, Madeira, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Pleasure, Sacramento, San Benito, Santa Clara. , Solano, Sonoma and Yolo. However, only Almeida County has restored the public indoor mask mandate.
Ferrer said Los Angeles County would do the same for two consecutive weeks if the COVID-19 community level fell.
LA County, like the state as a whole, continues to strongly recommend residents to wear masks indoors. But Ferrer acknowledged that “this is a very difficult needle for the thread” and that the unintended consequences of years of health care may be that people do not understand the need for a recommendation.
“People are now assuming that if we don’t issue orders and security measures are needed, it is not necessary, and that is not what we said,” she said. “We’ve benefited from people who are always able to listen, ask questions and then, for the most part, line up with safety measures. People are waiting for that command before they move forward and take that prudent precaution. ”