Coronavirus CA: Where the Bay Area stands compared to rest of the state

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As novel coronavirus cases rise and California reverses plans to reopen, it's clear the Bay Area is not out of the woods yet. But just how bad is it?

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"The counties, when you look at the entire Bay Area, are not as bad as some of the worst hit counties in California," UCSF's Department of Medicine Chair, Dr. Bob Wachter, told ABC7 News. "Not as bad as LA. Not as bad as Imperial."

The difference between the Bay Area and, for instance, Los Angeles county, is stark. According to charts tracking the daily coronavirus cases in each region, on July 10, the Bay Area had 809 new cases, not including cases at San Quentin State Prison. On that same day, Los Angeles County reported 2,620 new cases -- more than three times the Bay Area.

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Still, cases and hospitalizations are rising in counties across the Bay Area. Even in San Francisco -- which is one of the two Bay Area counties not on the state's watch list -- Dr. Wachter says the number of patients in the city's hospitals is nearly three times what it was at the lowest point a month ago.

There's also new concern about the "reproductive rate" -- the average number of people that someone who has coronavirus will spread it to. At the start of the pandemic, the average number of people was three, a sign the virus was spreading rapidly. The shelter in place turned that around and at one point the spread rate in California was. as low as 0.84. But, no more.

"Now, California's numbers are up to about 1.1, which isn't as bad as other states that are 1.3, 1.5," Dr. Wachter said, "But if it's above 1 then the virus will grow."

Dr. Wachter said San Francisco is also seeing a similar trend. The spread rate in the Bay Area was 0.8 a month ago. It's now up to 1.25, according to county health officials.

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Dr. Wachter says California's initial success battling coronavirus and the Bay Area's ability to ward off a major surge is, in part, due to early action and good habits. But it's also about pure luck.

"I liken this a little to a Vegas casino," he explained. "You can beat the house on a few hands, and you can think, 'Woah, I'm pretty good at this,' but eventually the house is going to win.

"The house here is the virus, and we let our guard down."

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