Coronavirus conditions are likely to worsen as case rates continue to rise and hospitalizations begin to rise, according to the top health official for the most populous county in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“We are also seeing quite a significant increase in reports of outbreaks, coming from schools, workplaces and other congregate settings,” said Dr. Sara Cody, director of public health and county health officer. of Santa Clara, during a press conference on Tuesday. “A lot of them are related to social gatherings. It’s spring – school is ending and people are gathering, and COVID is spreading.”
Caution is especially needed as it becomes clear that the latest circulating Omicron subvariants can re-infect people who survived the earliest strains of the Omicron variant in December or January. Experts had said that Omicron’s first subvariant, BA.1, likely conferred immunity to a newer subvariant, BA.2.
But some experts say surviving BA.1 may not confer a high probability of avoiding infection with an even newer subvariant, BA.2.12.1, which is more contagious than BA.2.
“Even if you got Omicron during the Omicron surge, you can still get COVID again, unfortunately,” Cody said.
She urged unvaccinated people to get vaccinated, to get vaccinated if they are eligible, to wear masks in indoor public places, to get tested if you think you have been exposed or to develop an illness, and to gather outdoors or, if indoors, open windows or increase ventilation. .
The Bay Area has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in California, nearly twice as high as Southern California. The trends here could offer an early warning to other parts of the state, as they did earlier in the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing now is similar to what we were seeing in mid-February, and that’s more than what we were seeing during the height of the delta surge” last summer, Cody said. “And we’re only just starting to see some early warning signs that this could translate into increased hospitalizations.”
In Santa Clara County, the hotbed of Silicon Valley, coronavirus cases have tripled in the past month, from a rate of about 80 cases per week per 100,000 population to a rate of 227 cases per week. per 100,000 inhabitants. This exceeds the maximum of 203 cases per week per 100,000 population from last summer’s Delta surge.
A rate of 100 or more is considered a high transmission rate, the worst category as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
California has seen its rate of coronavirus cases climb to around 8,000 cases per day over the past week, up 18% from the previous week’s average of 6,800 cases per day. This is the highest case rate since late February, as California weakened from Omicron’s first surge, but unlike Santa Clara County, the state has not passed the peak of the delta last summer. Per capita, California was reporting 144 cases per week per 100,000 people on Monday.
The Bay Area case rate was significantly higher than the overall statewide rate. The Bay Area had a case rate of 226 weekly coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, up 14% from the previous week.
Statewide coronavirus-positive hospitalizations increased 10% over the past week, from 1,093 to 1,203. In Santa Clara County, coronavirus-positive hospitalizations have trended upward these past few days and have increased by 7% over the past week, from 103 to 110.
Cody urged residents to take precautions to avoid infection.
“Even though these new variants are spreading so quickly, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult because of that to prevent infection, it’s still worth preventing infection. That’s because if you’re sick, you’re going to miss work, you’re going to miss school, you might expose somebody else who’s not going to be doing well with COVID,” Cody said.
“And if you get sick with COVID, you’re at risk for long COVID, which you really don’t want to catch,” Cody said. “So while it’s difficult, I still want to emphasize that trying to prevent it in the first place is always a good idea.”
Los Angeles County’s rate of coronavirus cases is also rising.
According to data released Tuesday, LA County averaged about 2,554 coronavirus cases per day over the past week, up from 2,054 per day the previous week, an increase of 24%. LA County’s case rate was 177 cases per week per 100,000 population.
LA County hospitalizations have fluctuated between about 210 and 270 coronavirus-positive hospitalizations over the past month.
“To date, the increase in the number of cases has not translated into an increase in serious illness, with hospitalizations and deaths remaining low and declining,” the LA County Department of Public Health said Monday. in a press release. “The lower number of hospitalizations and deaths reflects, in large part, the protection offered by the vaccines against the variants.”
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, however, warned residents to continue taking precautions in light of a high rate of coronavirus transmission.
“This month there will be many opportunities for gatherings, including graduations, proms and the upcoming Memorial Day holiday,” Ferrer said in a statement.
“To ensure that these occasions do not contribute to the increasing spread of Omicron variants, we encourage attendees to take reasonable precautions that will protect you and those around you, including staying outdoors as much as possible and wearing a mask inside,” Ferrer said.
It is also prudent to undertake rapid coronavirus testing before congregating, Ferrer said, “given the high number of asymptomatic individuals infected.”
“Most importantly, those who are older and those with underlying medical conditions should be sure to be bolstered as soon as they are eligible to maximize protection against these highly infectious mutated variants of concern,” Ferrer added. .
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.