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With officials Sunday painting a grim picture of a winter in which the Omicron variant spreads with devastating speed, California hospitals are trying to do what they can to prepare for the weeks and months ahead.

Public health officials are expecting some kind of wave of new infections to sweep through during the winter, and depending on how large it is, that could tax the hospital system in a way not seen since the summer Delta surge.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor on the pandemic, said Sunday the nation should be prepared for big spikes in hospitalizations and deaths, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, because of the remarkable spread of Omicron.

“We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination,” he told CNN.

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