California 1st State to Top 5M Cases Amid Omicron Surge
California became the first state to record more than 5 million known coronavirus infections, according to the state dashboard Tuesday, which was delayed by the holiday weekend.
The result wasn’t unexpected in a state with 40 million residents poised for a surge in new infections amid holiday parties and family gatherings forced indoors by a series of winter storms.
On March 19, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order, shutting businesses and schools down to try to prevent hospital overcrowding.
It is unclear how many of the newly reported cases were attributed to the omicron coronavirus variant. Much about omicron remains unknown, including whether it causes more or less severe illness.
Scientists say omicron spreads even easier than other coronavirus strains, including delta, and it is expected to become dominant in the U.S. by early next year. Early studies suggest the vaccinated will need a booster shot for the best chance at preventing an omicron infection but even without the extra dose, vaccination still should offer strong protection against severe illness and death.
With cases surging, the nation’s largest state-based health insurance marketplace urged more than 1.1 million uninsured Californians to sign up by Friday for subsidized coverage that would then start with the new year.
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