EXCLUSIVE: CA’s chief epidemiologist explains why Bay Area is the state’s COVID hotspot
“Cases are increasing in places that have less natural immunity, and unfortunately that would be here in California because we were much more locked down than other states,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease specialist at UCSF. .
The last time California experienced a similar COVID surge of this size was in the summer of 2021.
The graph is not displayed correctly? Click here to open in a new window.
Alameda is one of the counties with the highest COVID case rates in the Bay Area, with more than 16,000 positive cases per 100,000 population. The county health official calls it the fifth major wave.
“The numbers are up and some of them just reflect that there’s a lot of COVID circulating in our communities. That doesn’t necessarily reflect serious illness,” said county health officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. from Alameda. He added: “My concern is that in the future we may see a new variant capable of causing many serious illnesses and sending people back to hospital in large numbers.”
ABC7 News visited Zuckerberg SF General Hospital, where emergency department chief Dr. Chris Colwell is noticing an uptick in hospitalizations, which includes those with COVID and those who were infected during their stay to the hospital.
“We have a slight increase over the last week. So we have 11 to 12 in the hospital, two of them in intensive care. Which is a little higher than a few weeks ago,” said the Dr Colwell.
VIDEO: Scientists explain why getting infected with omicron doesn’t protect you from other variants of COVID
Dr Colwell said his biggest concern now was not so much hospitalizations because the number was not rising at a high rate, but his staff were infected.
“The number of people who are absent and cannot work because they have COVID. We have staff, nurses and doctors, everyone who contracts COVID and therefore cannot work. Our biggest challenge So is to get people to hire the emergency department,” Dr. Colwell said.
Dr. Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF, said the increase was expected.
“It’s been so anticipated. It’s been seen in New York, the UK has seen it, Europe has seen it,” said Dr Gandhi, who added: “So we’re going to see this BA2 .12.1 peak in early June, according to these patterns. And then by the third week of June, we should be out of it.”
Dr Gandhi said California was now in a much better position for a push of this magnitude.
“We have high vaccination rates. Higher than almost any other state, and also any immunity that we get now, even from cases in addition to having vaccine-induced immunity, just makes our rate serious illness even lower. So we have to go during this period, ”said Dr Gandhi.
VACCINE TRACKER: How is California 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 AND VIDEOS:
If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.