As COVID spikes in Europe and Asia, here’s how to prep for possible new surge in LA

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Brian Hardzinski

The best way to prepare for a new COVID surge is by stocking up on masks and deciding what activities feel safe to you. Photo by Shutterstock.

In Western Europe, COVID cases per capita are now nearly 10 times higher than the rate in the U.S. Public health officials blame the surge on the more transmissible Omicron variant BA.2, as well as the lifting of mask mandates and other restrictions. Typically, American COVID rates lag a few weeks behind Europe, but signs already indicate that we’re heading toward our own increase in cases. China and Hong Kong are also seeing significant outbreaks. 

“We have seen a relaxation of mitigation strategies. Mask mandates have come off. Social distancing has relaxed. We see people eating indoors,” says UCLA professor of epidemiology Anne Rimoin. “Mass vaccination mandates for events have decreased. And we also are seeing a waning of immunity from vaccines or previous infections. So this is a perfect storm where we can anticipate seeing more cases.” 

She says the best way to get ahead of a potential new surge is to be honest about the fact that it could happen, and start preparing. 

“We need to be proactive as opposed to reactive. And in the past we have always been reactive, wearing these rose-colored glasses wishing it away. We need some corrective lenses to see more clearly,” Rimoin explains.  

She suggests having high-quality masks on hand, getting a booster shot (if you haven’t gotten one already), and revisiting your personal risk levels and what you’re comfortable with.  

Rimoin says that despite the need to prepare, she has concerns over the U.S. and other countries’ abilities to handle a new surge. That’s because governments are scaling back their COVID budgets, which could lead to lower numbers of masks, therapeutics, and keeping track of disease transmission. 

“We are now going to be putting ourselves at a great disadvantage,” Rimoin says. “Globally, we may be in a difficult place. This pandemic is not done with us, even if we feel we’re done with it.” 



  • Anne Rimoin - epidemiology professor at UCLA and founder of the UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training program - @arimoin