Alameda Co. may have seen worst of omicron

Alameda County Fire Department employee Max Shih, left, administers the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Julia Jackson, a volunteer at a Berkeley needle exchange program, at St. Rose hospital in Hayward on Jan. 27, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

The worst of the omicron surge in Alameda County may be over, the county health officer said Tuesday at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Case rates and hospitalizations are still high but falling, health officer Nicholas Moss said. Case rates are falling more slowly than they went up. The daily case rate is 170 per 100,000 residents and 416 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, Moss said. Seventy-four people are in intensive care with the coronavirus.

“We seem to be past the peak,” Moss said, adding, “we’re not quite out of the woods yet.”

The peak daily case rate was 266.7 on Jan. 10 and the peak number of hospitalizations was 450 on Jan. 27. Intensive care cases peaked at 79 on Jan. 29, the county’s data dashboard shows. Moss said hospitalizations should continue to decrease.

The spread of the omicron subvariant BA.2 is not expected to change that prediction, Moss said. BA.2 appears to spread more easily than its parent, but the severity appears to be similar. Moss said the COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots appear to be effective against BA.2.

After the omicron surge subsides, the COVID risk will continue and people will see more surges, Moss said. Vaccination and testing will continue to be public health priorities, he said.

He said residents can expect to see easing of emergency requirements such as indoor masking, but masks will continue to be important. Even if they are not required, Moss said, they will be a good thing for people to use when they are sick. In terms of preventing illness due to COVID, vaccination is the tool, Moss said.

Alameda County is one of the most highly vaccinated areas in the nation, Moss said. With 81.4 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the county is sixth or seventh among all California counties, he said.

A FEMA representative speaks to the media on the opening day of the COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland Calif., on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. (Photo courtesy of

Alameda County has “not seen the same type of overwhelmg” of its health care system as places with lower vaccination rates, Moss said.

“It’s great than we’re in the low 80s,” said board vice chair Nate Miley, sitting in for board chair Keith Carson, who was excused.

Miley asked Moss about herd immunity, whether COVID-19 would become endemic and when life would return to normal.

Moss said herd immunity and endemic don’t really apply right now, and that life won’t ever return to the way things were in 2019, he said.

“It’s more like we’re getting closer and closer to the new normal,” Moss said.

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