COVID is on the rise again. Why the Bay Area doesn’t do warrants.

Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, county health workers in the San Francisco Bay Area issued a statement on Friday, recommending people take safety precautions, including wearing masks in indoor public places, testing and monitoring of vaccinations.

Health workers issued the recommendation rather than a mandate (as they have done in past surges) because while cases are soaring, hospitalizations remain relatively low. The region is well protected against serious illness and death due to immunity from past vaccinations and infections, more than it was before the emergence of the omicron variant.

“I think we recognize that there’s something between a mandate and a world where nobody covers their face,” Marin County health officer Dr. Matt Willis told SFGATE of the advice. . “Our hope is that we can reach common ground where people can recognize the value of face coverings. The Bay Area is clearly experiencing an increase in COVID activity, and people need to recognize and take this into account when on the go, and a mask is a helpful way to prevent infection.

“People who are at high risk of serious illness or who are in close contact with someone at high risk should be especially vigilant as we navigate this current wave of cases,” said Dr Susan Philip, chief health officer at San Francisco, in a press release. .

The recommendation was endorsed by all counties in the San Francisco Bay Area except Solano.

Willis said people who want to avoid infection should wear a higher quality mask such as an N95 and KN95 rather than a cloth face covering.

“Our residents most at risk for serious infection should know that if they go into a public place right now, there’s a good chance someone in that room is infected,” Willis said.

COVID-19 cases have been rising in California since early April, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area is reporting more new cases per day than most other areas in the state. San Francisco’s seven-day average rose from 79 new cases per day on March 13 to 343 new cases per day on May 5. At the peak in January, the city was reporting an average of 2,377 cases per day.

Willis noted that the number of cases is even higher than reported because so many people are using home testing.

“I estimate that at least half of the cases are going undetected right now,” he said. “It’s everywhere.”

As of May 9, there were 61 COVID-19 patients in acute and intensive care in San Francisco, compared to 286 people at the January peak. “In San Francisco, hospitalizations are increasing but remain relatively low compared to previous surges and well below the capacity of the hospital system,” the city’s public health department said in a statement. The emergence of the omicron variant has led hospitals to recognize the problem of “incidental positives”, where the number of hospitalizations is overestimated due to patients hospitalized for other reasons testing positive for COVID-19 and being counted as COVID patients. -19.

The Omicron sub-variants – especially the new BA.2.12.1 – are causing the swell in the cases. While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said preliminary data suggests BA.2.12.1 does not cause more severe disease, it is more transmissible than its predecessors.

“BA.2.12.1 is believed to be 25% more transmissible than BA.2, which itself is 30% to 80% more transmissible than BA.1, which itself is 200% more transmissible than delta,” said said UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong told SFGATE for an article published earlier this week about why cases are rising in the Bay Area.

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