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California is preparing for a winter COVID-19 surge — if not from the newly identified omicron variant, then from the Delta variant, which still poses a severe threat and has already caused surges in other states.

It’s still far from clear what kind of increase California will see, and the state has been doing better than other parts of the country. But officials say they want to be ready.

Surge planning is also well underway in Central California, which has recently experienced a reprieve in COVID-19 hospitalizations, falling by nearly 30% since mid-November.

Still, the San Joaquin Valley’s most populous county, Fresno, has a COVID-19 hospitalization rate more than triple that of Los Angeles County, and Fresno officials are expecting the winter surge will again be bad.

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