Bay Area lands on CDC's emerging COVID hot spot list as cases surge among unvaccinated

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Delta variant is driving up COVID cases across the country and in California. The growing surge has now put parts of the East Bay on the CDC's emerging hot spot list.

"Our case rates have more than doubled in recent weeks and I'm concerned for further increases," said Dr. Nicholas Moss, the health officer in Alameda County, where cases have been increasing along the 880 corridor through San Leandro and Oakland.

"If you look at the map in the neighborhoods where we're seeing the highest rates, those are also the places where vaccine rates are lower," explained Moss.

WATCH: 'CA could backtrack' amid rapid spread of COVID-19 Delta variant, doctors say
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Bay Area health officials are concerned about the rapid spread of the Delta variant, warning outbreaks could trigger a setback for the state.



In Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, 62% of all residents are fully vaccinated, much higher than the national average which is 48%. But doctors and health officials say it's still not enough.

"We're seeing an increase in hospitalized patients and not surprisingly, they're not vaccinated," said Dr. Russell Rodriguez, chief medical officer for John Muir Health in Contra Costa County.

Rodriguez says there are currently 16 COVID patients, ages 36 to 77, at their hospitals in Concord and Walnut Creek. "I have patients who had admitted to the hospital for COVID symptoms that were not vaccinated that were somewhat sorry at the time of their admission that they had waited for whatever reason."

Dr. Chris Colwell, chief of emergency medicine Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital says if more people don't get vaccinated fast, it will be "just a matter of time before one of these variants does overcome the vaccine."

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"This Delta variant is very concerning, largely because of how contagious it is and I really believe we are at a point where we can say pretty confidently that you're either going to be vaccinated or you're going to have COVID," explained Colwell, who says SFGH's COVID patients doubled overnight to 9 - all are unvaccinated.

He says more people MUST get vaccinated. "One of the questions that has to be asked is, to what extent are we free to make choices that have this serious of an impact on other people? And it is taking, ultimately, the lives of other people and putting them at risk to make a choice, that from my perspective, just doesn't make any sense."

Acting San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip, says they're watching data closely and want to avoid shutting the city down again. "If you have friends or family that have been hesitant, now is the time, please don't hesitate any longer, get the vaccine. It will save your life and it will be what's best for city."

Dr. Philip says San Francisco put out an updated health order Friday that requires people who work in high-risk settings in San Francisco get a vaccine, including private hospitals and nursing homes.

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