COVID pandemic status in the SF Bay Area

You likely know many people with COVID-19 if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has seen an explosion in cases since early April.

“Everyone and their grandmothers have COVID,” an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Peter Chen Hong said about the increase of the Bay Area.

The good news is that despite the rise in the number of cases, hospitalizations in the city are slowly rising and have not yet seen the alarmingly dramatic rise that occurred in some of the sudden increases in the past, as with the delta variant.

“We continue to monitor hospitalizations closely,” Alison Hawkes, director of communications for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, wrote in an email. “Similar to the Omicron surge in January, this current uptick in cases does not appear to be a serious disease among vaccinated and booster people. However, we would expect to see an increase in hospitalizations as case rates increase. At this time, it does not appear It also seems that we are in danger of running out of hospital capacity.”

Chen Hong said the four UCSF hospitals, where patients from across the region seek care, are a good proxy for the epidemic situation across the Bay Area.

“The hospitalization period has been really stable since around March 11,” he said. “We’ve stayed that way ever since. It didn’t really go up.”

Qin Hong said that with the sudden increases in the past, hospital admissions generally went up after two weeks of rising cases, and that hasn’t happened yet this time around.

There are a total of 22 patients in the four hospitals with COVID as of May 23. Chen Hong said some patients may have been in hospital due to COVID, while others came in for other reasons and coincidentally tested positive. At the height of the most recent rise, on the 3rd of January. 20, there were 152 patients at UCSF.

Chen-hong believes that the high rate of booster shots among the elderly protects the Bay Area from severe disease; Some regions of the country with low rates of booster vaccinations are seeing significant increases in hospitalizations.

“If you look at booster rates in San Francisco, it’s really high, especially in that 65-plus age group, about twice as much in other parts of the United States,” Cheng Hong said. “San Francisco has one of the best rates of reinforcement compared to the rest of the county.”

doctor. George Rutherford echoed that hospitalization numbers in the Bay Area show the vaccine is still working.

“The vaccine does what it is designed to do, and what it does well is prevent severe disease and death,” Rutherford said. “Hospitalization is a manifestation of that.”

Here are some answers to other questions you may have about the state of the pandemic in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How common is the virus in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Official county data shows a spike in cases, but the numbers are higher than the official count, because more people are getting tested at home with rapid antigen tests. When someone tests positive at home, they usually aren’t registered with the county.

Chen Hong said UCSF’s asymptomatic test positivity rate — the percentage of people tested in hospital who don’t have symptoms and end up positive — is a better indicator of the spread of the virus in the community. At the moment, it is 6.4%.

“This means that when you go to a crowded grocery store, about 1 in 18 or 1 in 20 people are walking around with COVID and they may not even know it,” he said.

By comparison, the asymptomatic UCSF test-positive rate was 1.5% in early March.

What variant is being traded in the SF Bay Area?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 37% of cases in California are highly contagious BA.2.12.1, but Chin-Hong said the number is likely higher, closer to 50% in the SF Bay area. The remaining cases are likely BA.2, which also spreads easily.

Chen Hong said, “BA.2.12.1 is believed to be 25% more transmissible than BA.2, which is itself 30% to 80% more transmissible than BA.1, which itself is 200% more transmissible than Delta “.

The CDC said early research indicates that BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 do not cause more serious disease than previous variants.

What’s next for the SF Bay area?

An infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Monica Gandhi said we can look to the UK to predict what will happen this summer, as the trajectory of the pandemic in the US often follows a few weeks behind the UK

The UK has seen a significant rise in cases for about six weeks, driven by BA.2 and its sub-variables (including BA.2.12.1), with declines reported in the past three weeks.

“Although COVID-19 hospital admissions in the UK increased during their BA.2, the variable increase, hospitalization, ICU admissions and deaths remained relatively low compared to previous increases in cases, which is believed to be a result of higher Population Immunity in the Region,” Gandhi wrote in an email. “With the US behind the UK by about four weeks, we are hopeful that the increase in our case numbers will start to decline towards the end of the month.

She added, “With nearly 60% of adults in the United States and 75% of children ages 0-17 years old, they have been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seroprevalence study on April 26, 2022.” , with 82.5% of our population over the age of five. after you have received at least one dose of the vaccine; And with the path the UK is likely to follow, I think COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths this summer will remain low. “

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