SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Omicron continues to break previous daily highs for case rates in California due to its high likelihood of transmission. But why?
In California, we are all too familiar with the term spreading like wildfire, it's now used for omicron because of where the variant lives in your body.
"There's a lot more in the big airways of the lungs," UCSF Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said. "Because that's closer to the nose and mouth and there's a ton there, you just expel it a lot more."
Due to it lingering longer in the air, Dr. Chin-Hong says there are more places that can be risky.
Marin County surveyed students who tested positive in the county after the holidays.
Many said they traveled out of the state, participated in indoor sports and attended indoor gatherings.
"Anywhere, not just indoors, where you're spending a long time in, like more than an hour or thirty minutes, then you really need to up your COVID precaution game," Dr. Chin-Hong said.
Dr. Chin-Hong says you can be contagious for around two days before symptoms and roughly three days after. He adds the symptoms you show are often very mild since the infection is not in the meat of your lungs.
"We're not seeing inside infection like a fever that causes your whole body to be sick because the lung isn't as inflamed and we're seeing outside infection," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "Runny nose, congestion, earache because it's all congested up here."
That last symptom is starting to be recognized as more common than once thought: ear pain.
Stanford University Bertarelli Foundation Professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Dr. Konstantina Stankovic and her team recreated an inner ear and exposed it to COVID as a test.
They learned that the virus could lead to inner-ear COVID symptoms and people must take note.
"If you notice hearing loss or dizziness or ringing in your ears, don't dismiss them," Dr. Stankovic said. "Get tested formally. In some of our patients, we've seen that hearing loss is the only sign of COVID infection."
Dr. Stankovic says the ears were likely infected through the nose, highlighting the importance of proper mask use.
VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- COVID's surge, omicron's threat, boosters' protection: What to know about next chapter in pandemic
- What to know about breakthrough COVID infections as cases among vaccinated rise
- California's indoor mask mandate: A Bay Area guide to changes in your county
- How severe is omicron? Expert says variant's 50 mutations could be its downfall
- Is it COVID, a cold or the flu? Here are a few easy ways to tell
- Here's everything you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots
- How to show proof of vaccination in San Francisco or anywhere in California
- Should vaccinated people get tested if exposed to COVID-19? CDC explains
- Can a breakthrough infection still lead to long haul COVID-19? San Francisco doctor explains
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area