'Two steps back': Grim sense of déjà vu as omicron surge impacts start of 2022

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- For many, the start of 2022 is kicking off in a familiar fashion with masking, business closures and more. Of course, this is action tied to COVID-19.

The jokes are out there, the New Year is being called "2020 too." There's a grim sense of déja vu with soaring transmission levels, long testing lines and stronger mask requirements making a comeback.

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"We feel like we take three steps forward, two steps back, a couple steps forward, a few steps back," Santa Clara Univ. Psychology Prof. Dr. Thomas Plante told ABC7 News. "And right when you think you might be out of the woods, BAM! You get hit with the omicron."

Dr. Plante explained he's even back on Zoom after teaching in-person during the fall academic term.

Elsewhere across the Bay Area, city services to college sports are feeling the impact of the omicron surge.

San Jose City Council is expected to return to virtual meetings on Jan. 11. Most recently, city leaders have held hybrid meetings, with options to attend in person.

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The Colma Police Department tweeted in-part, "All town facilities will be closed to the public until 1/28/22."

Additionally, both Stanford University and UC Berkeley announced their basketball programs are postponing games this week.

This includes the Cal Women's Basketball team's Pac-12 home opener against Oregon State.

However, there's a sense of optimism from California's top doctor. On Wednesday, Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state is prepared to handle the record surge in cases we're seeing now.

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"Today's situation and the environment with COVID and Omicron is better in many ways," Dr. Ghaly explained. "It puts us in a place where we can manage the disease burden that we weren't able to a year ago."

There's another dose of déj vu being felt across college campuses.

Second-year Stanford University student, Brian Wu stayed home on the East Coast, after the university moved the first two weeks of winter classes online.

"I actually came back for break with the intention of trying to spend every day in New York City," Wu described. "Like meeting up with friends, catching up, and all that stuff."

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"But it turns out, I actually spent most of this break at home just because of how bad the surge has been getting," he continued.

Elsewhere around the Bay Area, COVID-19 is continuing to cancel plans.

Organizers of Oakland First Fridays have canceled their January return, instead moving to next month.

"As a group, we unanimously decided that that would be the safest thing to do," Account Manager Venessa McGhee told ABC7 News. "Because we don't want to be a super spreader event."

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Safety, still paramount under the ongoing pandemic.

"I think we all have to take a deep breath," Dr. Plante encouraged. "And remind ourselves that we're doing a lot better today than we did back in March 2020."

He added, "This, hopefully, will pass."

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