EL MONTE (CBSLA) – With Los Angeles County reporting one of the highest daily case rates of COVID-19 since the pandemic started at 16,510 new infections, people across the Southland are being cautious with their New Year’s plans.

People waited in their cars at a Baldwin Park COVID-19 testing center, in some cases, for up to three hours. Dec. 29, 2021 (CBSLA).

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The line for COVID-19 testing at the Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park stretched from the freeway offramp.

After spending Christmas with relatives and experiencing some minor coughing, the Hernandez Family, from Hacienda Heights, wanted some peace of mind.

“I think it goes for everybody, even for the family we were around for the holidays, just knowing that if we have the slightest inclination that we’re ill, it’s better to do it, to be safe than sorry,” said Patricia Hernandez.

Gregory Bibbs came to get his COVID booster shot. He said it’s one of few the few outings he’s had this holiday.

“I didn’t really go anywhere,” Bibs said. “I don’t really eat out because this is serious.”

Across California, COVID-19 related hospitalizations are also up, hitting 1,069 in LA County alone.

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Dr. Thomas Yadegar, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center ICU Director, has seen the impact firsthand.

“Our seven day positivity rate went from 2% to 12% just in the past 10 days,” said Dr. Yadegar.

Yadegar added that even doctors have been calling out sick, which is why he decided to cancel his own holiday plans. He said if people are planning to get together with others, it’s best if those people are vaccinated and boosted.

“I think it’s best to keep your contact to two to three household and if you can, limit that to 12-15 individuals…if weather permitting, get together in an outdoor setting,” Dr. Yadegar said.

Experts also said it’s a good idea to get tested within 24 hours of a gathering.

“I”m scheduled to go back to work next Monday, and I’d rather be safe than sorry,” said David Hernandez. “Like she was saying, peace of mind as well.”

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Dr. Yadegar also suggested  people delay their New Year celebrations by a couple of a weeks, which would help prevent the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 from further community spread.