State health officials on Wednesday said they’re starting to see an increase in COVID-19 transmission in some parts of California.
The California Department of Public Health confirmed that the highly-contagious subvariant BA.2 — also known as stealth omicron — is now the dominant strain in California.
“While COVID-19 hospitalization rates are near an all-time low, we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 transmission in some parts of the state,” CDPH Director Dr. Tomas Aragon said in a statement Wednesday. “This underscores the need for Californians to remain vigilant and protect themselves and their communities by getting vaccinated and boosted.”
Specifics on the increased transmission statewide, however, aren’t clear, KTLA sister station KTXL reported.
The department earlier this week was supposed to update its COVID-19 testing data, including the statewide positivity rate. Officials said Wednesday a data processing issue held up the public reporting, so now the numbers are expected to be released Thursday.
Department officials did not provide details on the data processing issue. This comes more than a week after the department decided to transition its daily reporting of COVID-19 data to just two days a week.
“Frankly, it is concerning to me that the CDC and many states, including ours, are cutting back on data reporting,” said State Sen. Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.
Pan — who is also the chair of the Senate Health Committee — said good data is key to slowing the spread of the virus.
“It makes it a little harder to know what’s going on, especially as a wave is starting. What we have to hope is that while the departments of public health are saying we want to get out better data by getting it out less frequently, but that the people in those departments aren’t sitting on the data as these trends are happening,” Pan said.
As East Coast states begin to see case numbers swell and some cities like Philadelphia reinstate mask mandates, KTXL asked the CDPH if California might do the same.
A spokesperson there said public health officials will continue to assess science and data to decide how to respond to the pandemic, noting they continue to strongly recommend masking indoors.
Senator Pan said Californians should be taking precautions, including vaccines and boosters, to keep everyone safe.
“I too feel that we would like COVID to go away, but it’s not going to go away because we wish it to. We have to work at it,” Pan said.