SoCal COVID cases rise as rest of nation plateaus, FDA authorizes Novavax vaccine for emergency use

In L.A. County, the average number of COVID-positive patients per day is 515, an increase of 118% from one month ago.
CALIFORNIA (KABC) -- In the Northeast, COVID-19 cases appear to be in a plateau, but what does that mean for Southern California?

A former White House COVID advisor told Eyewitness News what he predicts for the summer and fall as a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted to recommend emergency use authorization for the two-dose Novavax for Americans 18 and older.

This comes as we see cases across the country start to level off. Pediatric cases are also starting to decline, but that's not the situation in Southern California.

"It's concerning that cases in the West and the South are still rising. Hospitalizations, nationally, are still rising," said former COVID White House Senior Advisor Dr. Tom Inglesby with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

He said officials are tracking the upward trends in California. In Los Angeles County, the average number of COVID-positive patients per day is 515, an increase of 118% from one month ago.

"In the fall and the winter, we will possibly see new surges that may be more serious than the ones that we're in now," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now tracking a rise in BA.4 and BA.5 cases.

While the subvariants caused a notable surge in South Africa and Portugal, Inglesby said exposure to earlier omicron subvariants might have a protective effect.

"We're hopeful that the BA.2.12.1 experience will provide some collective barrier against a sharp rise in BA.4 and BA.5, but we don't know that yet," he said.

If L.A. keeps moving toward the highest community threat level, health officials are prepared to re-implement universal indoor mask mandates, which could happen later this month.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that starting next week, required weekly COVID testing for students and employees will only extend to those with symptoms and close contacts.

With one-third of the country not vaccinated and one-third of Americans not boosted, Inglesby expects to see more waves. He said federal funding needs to be available to purchase new variant-specific vaccines.

"We need to be ready for future variants or surges should they occur. We can hope that they won't, but we need to prepare as if they will occur," Inglesby said.

He said we can expect the need for more boosters in all age groups. The next step for the Novavax vaccine is for it to head to the CDC where a panel will vote on its recommended use.

The vaccine could be available a few weeks or months after regulators approve it.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.