LIVERMORE (KPIX) — More than 20 cars were lined up at the COVID testing site in Livermore with people rushing to get tested after the holidays so they can return to work or school. With cases surging, health officials predict the new Omicron variant will get worse before it gets better.

Doctors are bracing for a rough month, as Omicron is expected to peak in a few weeks.

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“By next week you’ll be seeing more people get diagnosed with infection and some people will have symptoms and some people won’t,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF infectious disease expert. “We will see disruptions to restaurants and continued flight cancellations to government services to the corner store you normally go to. The other day I went to get takeout food and it was super delayed because many of the staff members were sick so there was only one person working. It’s not secret the highly contagious omicron variant is picking up pace but doctors say it is also less severe than other variants.”

Dr. Chin-Hong adds, “The silver lining is vaccines protect us against serious disease and this is hopefully going to exit very, very quickly.”

And now with new and unpredictable variants emerging where do things stand in the future?

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“Whatever we have we will have a lot of community immunity and hopefully as a country that will give us a reprieve of several months if not longer until the next variant. And maybe the next one won’t be as serious in terms of infectivity we just don’t know,” said Dr. Chin-Hong.

For now, doctors say we must live by a new set of rules as we get through Omicron.

“We are talking about a new kid on the block. You can’t use your old COVID rules anymore to protect yourselves. Its like, what you know so far, you have to put an exclamation after it. So I know I have to wear a mask. Before I could’ve gotten away with my Hawaiian mask but now I have to be boring and wear a surgical mask because it gives you multi layers. It gives me a lot of protection.”

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The CDC says that anyone who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should test five days after their exposure or when symptoms begin.