Breaking News
More () »

Medical community 'bracing' for surge in COVID-19 cases from holiday gatherings, 9Health expert says

Dr. Payal Kohli says that you should get tested sooner rather than later and look for mild symptoms that may not be obvious

DENVER, Colorado — The medical community is bracing for a surge in COVID-19 cases following family and friends gathering for the holidays.

By the end of Christmas week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that variants will fuel a possible 55% spike in new infections and result in 1.3 million new cases. 

"I have to say the medical community is bracing for the worst because this variant is so incredibly contagious more than any other variant that we have seen," said Dr. Payal Kohli, 9Health Medical Expert. 

Dr. Kohli said the virus can present itself with milder symptoms, which may give some people a false sense of security even when they do encounter system. Many people infected with omicron complain of a scratchy throat, fatigue and headaches. The most significant difference is that omicron is often not accompanied with a lack of taste and smell. 

Omicron also has a much shorter incubation period from the point of exposure. 

"This is behaving very differently, and those three to five days that is stuck in everybody’s head needs to shift up now, to more like 2 to 3 days just because of the incubation period being different," said Dr. Kohli. "Because it’s a shorter incubation period, you spread it more quickly without even realizing, so you need to test earlier in order to prevent the spread." 

A lack of at-home tests and difficulty scheduling appointments at testing sites could also skew the data and make a spike less noticeable from numbers from state health departments across the country. 

"I think we are undertesting, and we are under diagnosing which why because we have that limitation of tests, we have to keep our guard up at all times," said Dr. Kohli. 

Guidance for masks has also changed. It’s now recommended that you ditch your cloth mask in favor of a surgical masks, N95 mask or K95 mask.