When will covid case rates peak in Los Angeles County (Jan 2022)?

My best guess

This week / next week

Prediction Date: 01/11/2022

Deadline Date: 02/28/2022

Jan 28 Update: Currently, the forecast is looking good. Cases have begun falling rapidly, with the peak in cases right around the prediction date. I am almost ready to call it – just want to wait to see if there is any Superbowl induced bump (which I don’t believe will happen).

Original Prediction

South Africa, DC, NY and London are all areas with high vaccination rates or natural immunity and serve as leading indicators of the LA county experience. For example, LA county was roughly 2 weeks behind NY. In all those other areas, case rates have plateaued and fallen.

New York State Covid trends (updated Jan. 18)
Source: NY Times
California Covid trends (updated Jan. 18)
Source: NY Times

With the holiday season over, schools restarted, and a significant amount of unrecorded cases having already happened, omicron will start running out of new people to spread infect.

LA County Covid trends (updated Jan. 18)
Source: NY Times

The biggest issue is a pinch point in hospitals due to low staffing while medical workers are out recovering from their own bout of omicron. Once we move past that pinch point, healthcare availability should return to normal and omicron rates should continue falling. One often discussed point is that many of the “hospitalizations” are Covid adjacent – that is people who are hospitalized for reasons other than Covid, but incidentally also end up testing positive for Covid. However, more recently, this viewpoint has fallen out of favor as overall hospital utilization has continued to climb, in line with Covid cases with a lag.

Unfortunately, deaths do continue to rise as well. While it has been discussed that the Omicron variant is less severe, my sense is that this applies primarily to vaccinated folks with either mild symptoms or short hospital stays. However, for seniors, immunocompromised individuals or unvaccinated individuals, deaths have noticeably marched up higher, following the case rate with a 2-3 week lag.

I’m hopeful that things will return to less stressed conditions by March and that we’ll be looking in the rear mirror at Covid by summer 2022.

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