WILMINGTON (CBSLA) - A COVID surge may have started in Los Angeles County as health officials report high transmission rates, increased case numbers and other factors that may be driving the rise in people visiting a vaccination site in Wilmington.
"We're really excited, we're kind of celebrating too," said mom Amanda Luna, whose family brought pizza with them to the Wilmington clinic because, after Thursday night, everyone in their household will have gotten their COVID-19 shots.
The Luna Family joined crowds of people coming in at a rate Dr. Jerry Abraham said he has not seen since the first days that the vaccines were offered.
"I think the Omicron variant is driving some of that. I think the LAUSD mandate to be fully vaccinated by December 19, I think the emergency use authorization of Pfizer for 5 to 11-year-olds, and I think everyone knows they need a booster, ideally before the holidays so they can be safe," Dr. Abraham, with Kedren Health, said.
The push for vaccinations is as urgent as ever with news LA County is now back into what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as a rate of "high transmission," right as holiday gatherings are picking up.
New daily infection rates are up 19% in just one week since Thanksgiving.
Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said it's a winter surge driving by both the Delta and new Omicron variants.
"So, we have a lot of community transmission going on and when you have a lot of community transmission going on, and there's lots and lots of opportunities for people to be intermingling, you run the risk of these numbers just continuing to grow."
Because of vaccines and new treatments, experts said fewer people should get seriously ill or die, but emergency room doctors said there are other impacts to worry about.
"The cases of Omicron are doubling every one to two days, and for Delta, they would double every one to five days. So, even if it proves to be less virulent, you still have a very highly transmissible variant on our hands, and if we have an explosion of cases, even if it's a small percentage of a large number of cases, that's still a big number of cases that could overwhelm our hospitals," Dr. Michael Daignault told CBSLA.
That's one reason Dr. Abraham's mission, to get everyone he can vaccinated, continues with a focus on young Black and Latino men for whom rates are the lowest.
"These aren't just for the old, they're not just for the sick, they're not just for the young, they are for everyone, including the young invincible and the manliest among us," Dr. Abraham said.
There were more than 1,700 cases of COVID-19 reported in LA County Wednesday, nearly double the number reported just before Thanksgiving.
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