Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Thursday she expects a “deluge” of omicron cases in the county as the variant begins sweeping across the Bay Area and residents start traveling and gathering for the holidays.
“What I see is perhaps one of the most challenging moments we’ve had yet in the pandemic,” Cody said at a news conference. “And I think it’s challenging because it’s not what we’re expecting. We’ve all come to live with COVID over the last two years, and we’re all a bit tired. But I want to let you know, when I look around the corner, I see a lot of COVID, and a lot of omicron.”
Although the number of omicron cases in Santa Clara County remains low — 10 as of Thursday — there are indications those numbers will soon rise, Cody said. Last week, the county announced a single omicron case but noted it found the new variant in a sewer shed in its northern region. By Thursday, Cody said the county had detected omicron in all four of its sewer sheds, which she said covers a majority of the region’s population.
And while Santa Clara County’s vaccination numbers remain some of the highest in the country — 80% of all vaccine-eligible individuals in the entire region are vaccinated with at least two doses — worldwide evidence suggests the county may not be able to escape a widespread outbreak of the new variant.
That is another reason everyone age 16 and older should get a booster shot, she urged.
She said Norway and Denmark, which have vaccination rates similar to Santa Clara County’s, are seeing high numbers of omicron cases.
. But Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county’s COVID-19 vaccine officer, said the region is “not doing as well” with boosters as it did with first and second doses. He said 44% of those 18 and older in the county have received a booster. That number still leaves a quarter of a million people 50 and older who haven’t gotten their booster and don’t have additional protection, Fenstersheib said.
“None of our prevention tools replace any others,” he added. “Vaccinations are our most important. And our boosters are our most important. But again, there’s still the need to use all of our tools in our toolbox.”
In addition to getting boosters, Cody and Fenstersheib recommended that people take COVID tests before getting together in groups for the holidays.