As the fall and winter months begin to approach, the rates of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are on the rise, according to county health officials.
Within the last few weeks, COVID-19 has made an upward trend, as seen in the data presented by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Dr. Oliver Sahagun, an emergency room physician at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, said the current variant can cause severe symptoms.
“Not only is there an increased number of cases, but the most recent variant [BA.2.86] that’s circulating tends to cause an increase in severity as far as the symptoms go,” Sahagun said. “I don’t think that I had admitted anybody with COVID-like symptoms for over a year, up until maybe mid-last week, where I admitted an elderly lady who was hypoxic from COVID.”
Sahagun is aware of the increased numbers of more severe cases that are occurring within the Santa Clarita Valley.
“[As of now], we’re seeing about 10 cases per day in the last couple of weeks. Most of them come in because they’re symptomatic,” Sahagun said. “[Before, if patients were sick,] there would be minimal symptoms, and they wouldn’t come to the emergency room. Out of those five that we’re seeing daily, I’d say maybe one or two per week has had a decrease in their oxygenation that requires some sort of treatment in hopes of getting their oxygen back to normal levels.”
As summer is concluding and the infamous flu season approaches, Sahagun is aware of what to expect in the coming months. Influenza has been rampant in Australia and Southeast Asia, which is usually where it starts, according to Sahagun.
“I think we’re going to have a very, very busy fall and winter months with a lot of respiratory illnesses: not just from COVID, but from every other respiratory illness that we get every year,” Sahagun said. “Kids are going to be passing [illnesses] around, whether it’s COVID or any other virus, at a much higher rate than we’ve seen in the last two or three years.”
As for the best methods to stay healthy, Sahagun strongly recommends one thing: good hygiene.
“Make sure you wash your hands. If you’re going to be in close confinement, [and] if you have symptoms, stay at home because [anything could] spread really easily,” Sahagun said. “If you’re worried about somebody getting sick, masks [are] a protective way of preventing illness. It may not be 100% proof, but it’ll offer you more protection than not having a mask at all.”