The COVID-19 omicron variant — which went from newly detected to widespread transmission seemingly overnight — is showing a decline both in Los Angeles County and at the University of Southern California.

“We are relieved to have passed the peak of this winter surge,” said Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, chief medical officer for USC Student Health.

As the campus emptied for the Thanksgiving weekend, news of the highly contagious omicron variant broke across the globe.

On Nov. 26 the variant hit the U.S. By December 7, it had made its way to USC.

Within weeks, omicron became the dominant strain contributing to a winter surge. In L.A. County, the surge hit its peak on Jan. 16 at more than 41,000 new cases in a single day. At USC, the positivity rate among students jumped from less than 1% to nearly 10% in a two-week span from Dec. 6 to Dec. 20, shortly before the end of the fall semester.

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