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Friday, Dec 9, 2022

UCI Tracks Second Surge

In the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Orange County fared better than other counties in the state, with lower reported case, death and hospitalization figures.

That flipped in July when the county saw its first significant COVID-19 surge.

The county hit an all-time high average daily case count of 865 in mid-July; that figure dropped to an average of about 140 in September.

Now, as the nation faces rising case rates, the county—which is currently seeing average new daily cases in the 500 range—could be in store for a second coronavirus surge worse than the one seen over the summer, notes Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of the new public health school at the University of California-Irvine.

“About eight weeks ago, the county started to see cases stabilize and decrease. Then we started to see hints that we were heading back in the wrong direction as large groups got together over Halloween, the election, and general fatigue that led to residents letting their guard down, going out more and not wearing masks,” Boden-Albala said.

Now, as the county heads into colder weather, flu season, and as residents start to travel more and get together in large groups for the holidays, there’s “a perfect storm for a surge larger than one we’ve seen before.”

Vigilance, Vaccines

Boden-Albala said residents should remain vigilant, especially with promising news of several vaccine candidates that could be months away from delivering.

“We cannot afford to let our guard down months away from vaccination. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Boden-Albala said.

Two vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna have dominated headlines in recent weeks, with recent reports signaling nearly 95% effective rates and no serious side effects.

The vaccines are still awaiting FDA approval, but some reports indicate doses could be available by the end of the year.

“While I’m still waiting for more science on these vaccines, what I am seeing right now is extremely promising and I am happy we were able to fast-track this,” Boden-Albala said.

—Katie Murar

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