Bay Area in midst of another COVID surge, has highest infection rate in CA

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Bay Area in midst of another COVID surge
The Bay Area is facing another surge of the pandemic, and now has highest COVID-19 infection rates in all of California.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area is facing another surge of the pandemic, and now has highest COVID-19 infection rates in all of California.

"We continue to see high levels of the virus circulating in the community. It is very easy to get infected at this moment," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UCSF.

Three Bay Area counties have more than 200,000 cases: Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa. Much of it is fueled by the highly contagious omicron subvariants.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Bay Area had some the most strict COVID mandates in the country. And as Dr. Chin-Hong explains, it is because the Bay Area did so well, that it is seeing a current surge.

VIDEO: Expert says current California COVID surge will 'peak at the beginning of June'

UCSF's Dr. Monica Gandhi says that California's current COVID surge will peak at the beginning of June.

"Because we were good for so long, we are susceptible to getting infected with a virus that has muted a lot so that our vaccines don't recognize it that easily," he says.

Another factor is location. Global restrictions are easing, which means people are traveling more, with many coming to the Bay Area.

"Bay Area risk isn't just Bay Area risk. It is the risk of all the people visiting, and they come from very different locations, some which have very high levels of the virus," says Chin-Hong.

Most medical experts insist that vaccines have help to keep hospitalizations down, especially compared to the winter surge. However, the Bay Area continues to see a small uptick over the past few weeks, according to Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious disease researcher at Stanford.

VIDEO: Scientists explain why getting infected with omicron doesn't protect you from other COVID variants

Gladstone Institutes discovers why COVID-19 omicron infection doesn't give you natural immunity against other variants like delta and alpha.

"While it is true that we have the clinical tools now that we didn't have prior, and a better understanding of this disease from a clinical perspective, the reality is, a big surge like this is still a big problem," says Dr. Karan.

He says there are a few reasons why, but the biggest is the number of people who will miss work.

Karan adds that the public health response must adjust to the increasing numbers since he says no single strategy is going to be the same for all variants.

"There is no guarantee with variants in terms of what is going to happen next. It could be more transmissible. That has happened multiple times now. It could be more virulent, causing more severe disease, which has happened with delta especially," says Dr. Karan.

Vaccines help to prevent severe disease and death, but medial experts want people to stick to the basics: Get boosted. Get tested. Wear a mask. And socially distance.