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As COVID Cases Rise, Healthcare Workers Fear Another Winter Surge

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — While many doctors believe the region is in a much better place than last year, the rise in COVID-19 cases has drawn concern and stern warnings from healthcare workers.

"Even if we have a spike or a surge that's 25 percent of what it was last winter, we don't have the capacity from space or staffing to deal with that," said Dr. Thomas Yadegar.

Yadegar, who works at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center, has treated patients suffering from the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. He has seen nurses and doctors across the country quitting the profession and finding new careers. 

"It's unimaginable to have to go through another winter where you are overwhelmed and you have so much death and misery around you," said Yadegar. 

Staffing shortages in healthcare coupled with two highly contagious variants of COVID-19 — Omicron and Delta — has public health officials in fear of rampant spread during holiday gatherings. 

"If you're going to be indoors, you all should be testing before you show up at that gathering," said Los Angeles County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. " (There are) 220 testing sites across the county (and) there's an increased supply of those rapid test kits now that you can order or get from a drugs store."

Elements Pharmacy in Studio City has seen an increase in testing as residents heedFerrer's advice. 

"People wake up they don't feel well, they have a sore throat, they have a stomach ache," said pharmacist Sherri Cherman. "First thing they think about is to test, which is the right thing to do."

Parents are also being precautious during holiday gatherings as some schools are requiring students to get tested before returning from winter break.

"As a parent, I had decided two weeks ago that no matter what we would baseline test," said Theresa Gaines. "And we are just about to make our appointments for the week before we return to school."

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