LOS ANGELES (CNS) - As COVID-19 cases surge amid the Omicron variant, Mayor Eric Garcetti today urged people to get vaccinated and boosted, but said Angelenos can feel comfortable with their holiday plans if they take precautions.
``Omicron is doubling every 1.5 to every 3 days, and we've seen a case load here in L.A. County go from about a thousand cases just a few weeks ago to three thousand cases a day right now, tripling in a very short time even before Omicron is here,'' the mayor said. ``We know this is a very fast spreading variant.''
He called it a ``critical moment'' for the city, and said he has ``no doubt'' that the high number of cases experienced in New York and the United Kingdom will reach Los Angeles.
Garcetti again urged Angelenos to get vaccinated against the virus if they haven't already.
According to the most recent figures, 78% of eligible Los Angeles County residents aged 5 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 70% are fully vaccinated. More than 2 million residents have received a booster dose of the vaccine.
However, there are still 2.2 million eligible residents who have not received a shot, and 3.1 million people are currently eligible for booster shots but haven't received them.
For people who are vaccinated but haven't yet received their boosters, Garcetti urged them to get that shot, noting how Omicron has changed the vaccines' effectiveness.
``If you're boosted, you have a 55-80% greater chance of not getting infected. With just two shots, it could be as low as 0-20%, especially after those first six months,'' Garcetti said.
He urged people, even if it hasn't been six months since their last dose, to get a booster shot.
``Most of the research is showing that (six months is) a pretty arbitrary month. The three to five months after your second shot, it's OK, it's fine, it's actually probably smart to get your booster,'' Garcetti said.
With Christmas just days away, Garcetti -- citing Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden -- said people don't have to cancel their travel plans, especially if they're vaccinated, boosted and wear a mask on the plane.
But the mayor encouraged people to get tested frequently, and said if they suspect that they've been exposed to the virus, they should seek a PCR test instead of the less-reliable antigen test.
A city map of testing locations can be found at coronavirus.lacity.org/testing-center-map.
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