After a recent lifting of restrictions, the number of COVID-19 infections in Santa Clara County is rising.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said schools and workplaces are reporting upticks in infection, and that the county is starting to see early signs that could signal a future increase in hospitalizations due to the virus. While the county reported 193 new COVID infections on April 3, that number jumped to 589 on May 3.
“The variants circulating now spread much more easily than those earlier in the pandemic,” Cody said. “If you got omicron, you can still get COVID again.”
Cody recommends residents get up to date on COVID vaccinations and take precautionary measures.
“Keep your mask handy and wear it when you’re indoors, especially if it’s crowded and not well-ventilated,” she said, noting there are no plans to bring back the county’s mask mandate.
Cody’s statements follow a lifting of the county’s indoor mask mandate in March. Santa Clara County has had some of the most stringent rules in the Bay Area when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. While some local agencies have lifted their mask mandates as well, San Jose recently implemented a temporary masking order for workers in all city facilities.
Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford University School of Medicine, told San José Spotlight there is an uptick of COVID cases in the Bay Area. She said in the last two weeks, Stanford has seen an increase in SARS-CoV2 in wastewater, and she recommends people get vaccinated and boosted to prevent serious illness.
“The risk calculation is very different if you’re over 50 and have underlying conditions,” she said. “I would be concerned, especially for economic productivity if people are out sick.”
There have been 324,687 total infections countywide since early 2020. Almost 86% of residents of all ages and 91% of those ages 5+ are fully vaccinated. About 70% have received at least one booster dose. Only 15% of county residents ages 50-64 have received a second booster shot. For residents ages 65+, almost 29% have received a second booster.
Maldonado said she’s seen a small rise in hospitalizations. The prevalent COVID strain, the sub-variant BA.2, is more transmissible than omicron. It’s a risk for people with underlying conditions and those who are immunocompromised. She said these people should consider taking Paxlovid or other treatments which can quickly reduce symptoms.
“It’s very clear that our antibodies do start to wane after four to five months… If you’re 50 or older we know the risk of serious illness is higher,” she said.
In a statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said during the last surge, those who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID compared to those who were unvaccinated, and seven times less likely to be hospitalized. The CDC recommends everyone age 5 and older be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
On March 29, the CDC recommended additional boosters for immunocompromised individuals and those age 50 or older who received an initial booster dose at least four months ago to increase their protection against COVID. People ages 12 years and older who are immunocompromised and those ages 18 years and older who received both a primary dose and a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least four months ago are also eligible.
Although the state previously announced plans to require the COVID-19 vaccine for children to attend school, the California Department of Public Health requirements won’t take effect before July 1, 2023 or later.
Vaccination appointments in Santa Clara County can be made online at www.sccfreevax.com.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]