Berkeley epidemiologist 'cautiously concerned' over rise in COVID-19 cases in Alameda County

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Local doctor concerned over rise of COVID-19 cases in Alameda Co.
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A UC Berkeley epidemiologists is cautiously concerned about the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Alameda County, California.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- At an Oakland city council meeting on Tuesday, council member Noel Gallo said the rising number of coronavirus cases in Alameda County is a topic of concern and conversation.

He has been doing community outreach on the topic.

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"Our goal is going door to door to some of the markets that we have here, businesses and other activities to make sure that their employees attend the testing sites to get tested," he said.

Gallo said he's reached out to public health officials to make sure neighborhoods that are vulnerable are not neglected.

There are now nearly 4,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alameda, surpassing Santa Clara as the county with the highest number of cases in the Bay Area, even though their death count is lower at 102.

Workers at the Tesla factory in Fremont tested positive just days after re-opening. The company initially defied public health orders before coming to an agreement with the county on safety guidelines.

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So, if companies are following safety guidelines and people are wearing masks - what are experts saying about the spike in numbers?

"When you look at the death rate, which is obviously a tragic indicator, the death rate in Alameda County are not particularly elevated compared to Santa Clara, compared to San Francisco, it's pretty much exactly the same," said Dr. Arthur Reingold, epidemiologist at UC Berkeley.

Still Reingold says the numbers should warn everyone about being vigilant in following public health guidelines - especially as more people venture out of their homes. And in recent days, gathering for protests.

"We are very worried about that. If people are out and about more, whether for other types of errands or to be in a demonstration, certainly if they're not wearing a mask, they put themselves at increase risk in transmission," said Dr. Reingold.

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Alameda Public Health has not made a statement about recent numbers and there are no new guidelines for businesses that are re-opening. Employers are not required to test their employees before allowing them to go work.

"I think it makes much more sense to tailor the recommendations to they type of business or work site rather than to expect a single blanket recommendation," said Dr. Reingold, "I think each individual still has a responsibility for his or hers or their own safety."

Gallo agrees that individual vigilance and not more rules is what's needed - especially as the spike in numbers show, COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.

"We have to follow healthy practices, the distancing, the sanitation, proper equipment to serve the public," he said.

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