"If you're going to come in contact with other people make sure you have your mask on," said Santa Clara County COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, as he urged residents to stay vigilant with warm weather conditions expected for Easter.
RELATED: California will allow indoor concerts, theater performances, other private gatherings starting April 15
Multiple COVID-19 "variants of concern" as defined by the CDC have been detected in the county, which officials say is a troubling trend as more activities reopen.
Fenstersheib added, "We are now seeing a lot of variants which seem to be more transmissible, more contagious, and so we need to people to make sure (they're getting tested) especially if they're putting themselves at any risk."
RELATED: Santa Clara Co. health officials warn of increase in COVID-19 variants
Right now, the public is only making use of approximately 30% of the county's testing capacity, which is around 30,000 per week. With more variants popping up, officials are urging the public to avoid non-essential travel. They're also reminding essential workers who have yet to be vaccinated to get tested at least once a month.
"People are forgetting about testing and it's a really important tool to keep using," said Fenstersheib. "I know the vaccine is coming and a lot of people have been vaccinated, but we cannot forget that testing is critical."
RELATED: How can I register for a COVID-19 vaccine in California? Here's how it works in every Bay Area county
As California opens up vaccine eligibility in April, more supply is on the way from federal authorities. Next week, Santa Clara County expects to have around 50,000 first-dose appointments available to the public. Infectious disease experts say the vaccines plus the use of common sense will play key roles in keeping people safe.
"We're nowhere near the herd immunity that we need for unvaccinated people to really let down their guard," said Dr. Anne Liu, a professor at Stanford School of Medicine.
VACCINE TRACKER: How California is 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 & VIDEOS:
- Map shows which counties can, can't reopen under reopening tiers
- Cheat sheet: What you can and can't do after being fully vaccinated
- CA COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: See your status here
- These CA counties are way ahead in vaccinations
- How to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in every Bay Area county
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- Interactive map shows what's closed and what's reopening in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic