Santa Clara County health leaders anticipate 'deluge' of omicron cases

Santa Clara County health officials are bracing for what they believe will be a surge in omicron variant cases.

Officials fear transmission rates will increase during the holidays. They stress getting three doses of the COVID vaccine is the only way to escape the teeth of this pandemic.

"When I look around the corner ahead, what I see is a deluge of omicron," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County's top health official.

She said the speed and breadth of the omicron variant’s spread in Europe is a warning signal in the U.S.

The South Bay had one omicron case days ago. Now there are 10. And officials believe that number will likely go higher since the variant is present in all four county sewer sheds.

"Now we know from our sewer sheds it’s not only present, but it’s present at some level in all parts of the county," said Cody.

Officials continue pushing a multi-layered approach to stemming the spread. Eighty percent of South Bay residents have received two COVID vaccine shots. Officials said the booster shot strengthens effectiveness.

"I feel getting vaccinated is the best way to beat this. So we’re just tired of staying at home. We want to get out. And vaccination is the way," said Brabnya Joshi, who received her booster shot Thursday.

Omicron surge: Medical surveillance can't keep up with rate variant is spreading

Stanford University officials recently announced the first two weeks of the upcoming winter quarter will be conducted online. And that all eligible students must receive a COVID booster by the end of January.

In an email, officials wrote the action is taken "to minimize academic disruptions and provide students and instructors with as much predictability as possible…"

Officials conceded they’ve not seen an increase of the omicron variant on campus, but, "the uncertainty of its transmissibility this winter remains a concern and poses some logistical challenges for the start of in-person classes."

"Vaccinations are our most important. And boosters are my most important. But again there’s still the need to use all the tools in our toolbox," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the Santa Clara County COVID vaccine coordinator.

Officials said that means continuing to mask up indoors and outdoors in groups, and social distancing is still a must.

The health officer says there are a quarter-million Santa Clara residents 50 years of age and older who still have not received their booster shot.