COVID cases up 50% in California since March, CDC says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Cases of COVID are climbing quickly across California, up by more than 50% since March, according to the CDC. San Francisco is spiking past the 5% test positivity rate - a rate too high, infectious diseases experts say.

"Trying to just look at the best case scenario and not preparing for a worst case scenario is a problem because we can get caught off guard at that point," said Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious disease doctor at Stanford, adding that with more transmission come more mutations and more chance of a deadly variant.

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"With the next variant, it's hard to say, and this is the problem," said Dr. Karan. "This is why we need to focus on prevention. How do we prevent big surges? Because we don't know what we're going to be dealt with later this year."

And, while the virus can be unpredictable, the doctor doesn't think it was so hard to see the surge coming.

"Pulling back on mask mandates in indoor settings like transportation, you'll have more transmission. More people kind of socializing, feeling safe, going to indoor settings - you'll have more transmission," he said.

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While cases are on the rise, hospitalizations are trending down. The latest numbers showing 35 people are hospitalized with COVID in San Francisco.

"In a city of one million, those are very low levels. Definitely seeing a surge in cases but not seeing a surge in hospitalizations at all," said Dr. Noble, an emergency care doctor at UCSF.

"I think that it tells us that we are really making steps forward in this pandemic to it being an endemic disease," said the doctor, noting vaccines are working and antiviral treatments are also helping.

"It's really tremendous to see people who previously we would have described as at great risk because of COVID to treating it like a common cold," said Dr. Noble, adding she doesn't believe mask mandates should come back. "That was a strategy that I think was most appropriate pre-vaccines. We now have very effective vaccines and we have very effective treatments."

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