Experts are warning that employees could report to work while sick with COVID-19, with symptoms so mild that even healthcare workers are being fooled.
It has long been known that people who experience mild or no symptoms can spread the coronavirus to others. But health experts now note that more people experiencing very mild illness are working anyway, exacerbating the risk of transmission.
dr Ralph Gonzales, associate dean of UC San Francisco, said at a recent campus town hall that Omicron’s latest dominant subvariant, BA.5, can cause symptoms so mild that health care workers keep working despite the illness. Some people don’t test positive until four or five days after they start showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“We are seeing more employees who have been on site with multiple days of symptoms. So try not to work with symptoms, even if they’re mild, because we’re seeing quite a few mild symptoms with BA.5, and people often don’t even realize they’re sick,” Gonzales said.
While case counts are down markedly from the heights of the last wave, the risk of exposure remains high. Nearly every county in California has a high rate of coronavirus transmission, defined as having 100 or more cases per week per 100,000 residents.
When case rates are at this level, “it is still recommended to apply precautions that we have all become familiar with during the pandemic, including wearing masks indoors, staying home and getting tested when sick, doing a good using outdoor air and maximizing ventilation indoors and getting tested before gathering where health vulnerable people can be present to protect them,” Dr. Muntu Davis said Thursday.
The number of Los Angeles County workplaces reporting clusters of coronavirus cases continues to decline; there were 144 in the most recent week, down from the previous week’s count of 152.
In places where there are outbreaks, Davis said, the factors that typically increase the spread of the disease are people at work who don’t know they have a coronavirus infection and not wearing a mask.
That’s why “it’s really important for people to make sure that if they feel sick, even with mild symptoms, they get tested and make sure they don’t have COVID,” he said. “There have been some studies that have shown in the past that even up to around 56% of people didn’t know they had an infection.”
That’s especially vital now that the Omicron variant and its family of sub-strains have proven particularly difficult to avoid, even for those who have long dodged a coronavirus infection.
A review of infections by the UC San Francisco Office of Population Health found that as of early 2022, fewer than 10% of campus employees and students had prior COVID-19 illness, Gonzales said. But the various waves of ultra-contagious Omicron variants radically changed the cumulative infection rate.
As of early spring, 20% of university employees and students had had a coronavirus infection, according to data shared by Gonzales. And by midsummer, 45% had been infected, Gonzales said.
An Axios/Ipsos survey recently said that about half of American adults have had a coronavirus infection at some point.
The most recent seroprevalence estimate for California (the proportion of residents believed to have been infected with the coronavirus at some point) was 55.5% in February. according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was markedly higher than the 25.3% estimated last November, before Omicron’s widespread arrival.
The proportion of Californians infected at some point has almost certainly continued to rise throughout this year, given the steady wave of newly reported infections.
Meanwhile, the pandemic’s impact on hospitals has subsided as Omicron’s summer surge fades.
As of Thursday, there were only seven California counties with a high Community level COVID-19 as defined by the CDC, which generally indicates both a high case rate and an elevated level of new weekly coronavirus-positive hospital admissions.
Counties still in the high community level of COVID-19 as of Thursday (Kern, Ventura, Monterey, Merced, Imperial, Madera and Kings) are home to about 2.9 million Californians, representing about 8 % of state population. By contrast, two weeks ago, there were 14.4 million Californians living in the 21 counties in the high community level of COVID-19.
The counties that came out of the community high level of COVID-19 this week were Fresno, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Humboldt, Sutter, Yuba, San Benito and Tuolumne. Those that came out of the level the previous week were Orange, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Solano, San Luis Obispo, Napa and Mendocino.
Southern California counties in the middle tier of the COVID-19 community include Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, and Santa Barbara. Riverside County is in the low community tier for COVID-19.
As of Friday, Los Angeles County recorded about 3,000 coronavirus cases per day over the previous seven-day period, less than half the summer peak of nearly 6,900 cases per day, though still well above the spring low. about 600 cases per day.
On a per capita basis, Los Angeles County reports 206 coronavirus cases per week per 100,000 residents.
Hospitalizations with positive coronavirus have a downward trend. Starting Thursday, There was 827 positive coronavirus hospitalized patients in the 92 hospitals in Los Angeles County, a decrease of 12% in the previous seven days. state models the project continued to drop over the next month.
Los Angeles County reported 96 COVID-19 deaths during the seven-day period ending Friday, up 16% from the previous week’s count of 83. The peak weekly count for the summer was between July 31 and August 6, when Los Angeles County reported 122 COVID-19 deaths.
More than 33,000 cumulative COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Los Angeles County since the pandemic began, including approximately 1,500 in the last five months. Before the pandemic, about 1,500 Angelenos typically died from the flu over the course of a full year.
Some experts expect a wave of COVID-19 in the fall and winter, as has happened in the last two years, but it is not clear how serious it may be. Officials are also concerned about the possible return of a major flu season for the first time in the pandemic era.
The White House has signaled that it expects a new Omicron-specific booster shot to be available in September. Health officials are urging people to get a flu shot and be up-to-date on their COVID-19 shots before winter.