Written by Samir Chowdhary-Fitton and Katherine Welander
Cover image illustrated by Justina Wilkins
Graphs created by Katherine Welander
In the weeks following winter break, M-A and the Sequoia Union High School District as a whole experienced a large spike in COVID-19 cases, which can be attributed to the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The weekly District cases reported on the COVID-19 Dashboard rose from seven to 710 over the course of two weeks.
At M-A in particular, COVID-19 cases increased more rapidly and to a much greater extent than county and state cases. According to The New York Times COVID-19 page, for the week of January 3rd, San Mateo County had 1612 cases for every 100,000 people, while M-A had 8120 and the District had 7100. The state’s spike in cases occurred a week after the District’s, and while the upward trend parallels the District’s, the spike was not nearly as drastic.
In order to determine the cases per capita numbers for each area, we divided the total number of cases per week by the population of the group. M-A has a population of around 2500 people, the District has around 10,000 people, and, according to the 2020 Census, San Mateo County has a population of 764,442, and California has a population of 39,538,223. This number was then multiplied by 100,000 to produce the number of cases per 100,000, and this whole process was repeated for each week of reported cases.
Despite the spike early in the second semester, cases have begun to decline, and will most likely continue to do so. While M-A has yet to return to pre-winter break levels, which were an average rate of three COVID-19 cases per week, M-A’s weekly case rate has dropped from over 200 to 53 weekly cases. District cases have dropped similarly, from 710 to 237 weekly cases.
This trend is also occurring nationwide, with a large spike in cases followed by a significant drop to nearly pre-spike levels. Other countries such as South Africa, where Omicron was initially discovered, and the United Kingdom have experienced a similar pattern in the wake of Omicron’s spread.
While it is still too early to predict exactly what shape the decline in cases will take, the emergence of past variants, most notably Delta, have caused similar spikes before case numbers returned to previous levels. If the Omicron spike is anything like its predecessors, it seems that we can expect a continued drop in cases back to pre-Omicron levels.