'I'm cautiously optimistic': Health expert sees light at end of omicron tunnel

Cathy Feller hands out free COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits during a drive-thru event at the Hollywood library on December 30, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida.
Cathy Feller hands out free COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits during a drive-thru event at the Hollywood library on December 30, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

Recent Bay Area wastewater samples have shown a dramatic decrease in the quantity of coronavirus, signaling that we may be past our peak of the omicron surge.

Since Jan. 7, the amount of COVID-19 genetic material detected in Palo Alto, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Gilroy has plummeted significantly, however, health experts caution we're not out of the woods yet.

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"New York, New Jersey, Boston, Washington D.C., we are starting to see the peak of the wave at least in the Northeast," Dr. David Dowdy, epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told KCBS Radio's "Ask An Expert." "It doesn't mean the rest of the country isn't in for a little bit more of a surge first, but we are starting to see things slowly turn around."

Based on data from Johannesburg and London, omicron waves have lasted around three to four weeks and take about the same amount of time to fall back down. Dowdy estimates the Bay Area will follow a similar trajectory.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that once this wave passes, we’ll be in the clear for at least a number of months, but exactly how long that lasts is hard to say. It’s not going to be forever," he said.

"If we can see light at the end of the tunnel, it makes it a bit more tolerable for us to manage some of these measures in the next two to three weeks," he added. "I think we all need hope, something to look forward to and I think there is a lot to look forward to here."

For the time being, Dowdy warned against engaging in mega-events, especially those held indoors, as they can be the source of a major outbreak.

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