Omicron is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, and it was first reported to the World Health Organization by the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa in November of 2021; after it was detected in Botswana, it spread around the world.
We now know that Omicron is incredibly contagious, and it can reinfect people within days.
Now, a new wave of the pandemic is spreading across Los Angeles county, and hospitalizations are rising, so Los Angeles County is thinking about moving toward an indoor mask mandate again.
The difference between this current wave versus the previous one is that those who have become infected aren't seriously ill, despite hospitalizations rising, patients are less sick, and the intensive care units aren't as crowded as they were with previous waves of COVID.
During a town hall that was posted online, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Spellberg said that despite coronavirus-positive cases starting to rise again, nearly 90% of the hospital's coronavirus-positive patients were actually admitted for issues other than COVID.
"Virtually none of them go to the ICU — and when they do go to the ICU, it is not for pneumonia. They are not intubated," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Spellberg, and then he explained that the other issues were electrolyte abnormalities.
"It is just not the same pandemic as it was, despite all the media hype to the contrary. ... A lot of people have bad colds, is what we're seeing," he added.
Additionally, Epidemiologist Dr. Paul added, "We have no one in the hospital who had pulmonary disease due to COVID."
When Dr. Paul Holtom was asked whether or not mask mandates are necessary, Dr. Paul said, "there's no reason, from a hospitalization-due-to-COVID perspective, to be worried at this point."