By Maria Cid Medina

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases is shattering records in the Bay Area and nationwide, and health officials expect those numbers to get worse before they get better.

On Tuesday, the United States broke a record single-day high with more than 1 million new COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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“I’m seeing now a lot of COVID patients coming into the emergency department, many of them are losing senses of smell and taste, many of them are having shortness of breath,” said Stanford Hospital Interim Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Ryan Ribeira. “We are seeing hospitalizations increase, ICU patients increase.”

The number of new, positive cases could be even higher than reports show, however, because of the challenges people are facing right now to get tested. Long lines at test sites have continued since the holidays began.

In Santa Clara County, the public health department reported its highest 7-day rolling average Tuesday with 1,316 cases. The surge is higher than the surges caused by the previous Alpha and Delta variants.

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Cases have gone up about five times in the last two weeks, both in California and here in Santa Clara County,” said Dr. Ribeira. ”

He said California’s trajectory will continue to follow the East Coast’s pattern where the Omicron variant’s first surges in the country began. Dr. Ribeira expects cases in California to continue to surge.

Hospitalizations and deaths, however, are much lower than they were this time last year, at least in Santa Clara County, thanks to the vaccines and boosters.

Dr. Riberia added that although the Omicron variant appears to be causing milder symptoms than previous variants, the effects of the virus could still be long-term and people should continue to take precautions.

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“We are hearing reports of long-COVID at some of these long-COVID specialist clinics across the country that seem to be attributable to Omicron cases,” Dr. Riberia said.