The number of Coronavirus hospitalizations in San Diego County increase as the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the Omicron variant is 58.6 percent of the cases circulating in the United States. 

The variant was first detected in southern Africa last month and the first case in the United States was first identified on Dec.1. from a fully vaccinated individual who traveled from South Africa. The Delta variant accounts for 41.1 percent of all the COVID-19 cases nationwide according to CDC data ending on Dec.25.

The number of hospitalizations in San Diego county surged over the Christmas weekend bringing cumulative totals of 414,057 infections and 4,445 deaths since the pandemic began.

Local health officials reported on Monday 1,678 new cases as of Friday, 1,252 on Saturday and 2,681 on Sunday. No updates were provided within the three day span as the county Health and Human Services Agency does not report COVID data on weekends or holidays. 

The seven-day positivity rate increased from 7.4 percent to 11.3 percent as of Thursday according to the county. There was an increase of testing over the weekend which brought the reported total to 7,227. 

California health officials have raised concern in the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 as omicron continues to drive the number of cases. 

The United States is averaging 260 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations a day, which is a 30 percent increase compared to last week. 

​​“Unfortunately NY is seeing an increase in pediatric hospitalizations (primarily amongst the unvaccinated), and they have similar [5 – to 11-year-old] vaccination rates,” Dr. Erica Pan, the California state epidemiologist, wrote on Twitter. “Please give your children the gift of vaccine protection as soon as possible as our case [numbers] are increasing rapidly.”

Emergency use authorization was approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration for two oral antiviral medications for treating COVID-19. Supplies of these medications will be “initially very limited”, according to a statement from the county health agency said last week. Local health officials encourages the use of masks throughout the holiday season to prevent infection.

The first shipment of Pfizer's Paxlovid is anticipated any day now. A second oral antiviral, Merck's molnupiravir, is expected to start arriving in the region soon afterward, according to the HHSA. 

A prescription will be required for either drug, and both drugs are to be taken over several days in pill form. They will be available to patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms  who are at risk of progressing to severe coronavirus disease, including hospitalization or death.

According to county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, the FDA's emergency use authorization of these new oral antivirals comes at a critical point in the pandemic as we see an increase in cases and a rapid spread of the Omicron variant. 

"News of the arrival of these drugs does not mean we can let our guard down. We need to continue to mask up, especially in crowded indoor spaces, and I urge anyone who has not gotten vaccinated, or is overdue for their booster shot, to get vaccinated as soon as possible,'' she said.

The drug will be initially distributed to about two dozen pharmacies preselected by the California Department of Public Health and the quantity depends on “community impact from the pandemic.'' The expanded distribution will come as supplies increase in the state and county. 

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