Santa Clara County’s top health official warned Tuesday that COVID case counts and hospitalizations are rising and urged everyone to consider wearing masks in high-risk settings, maintain a testing stockpile and exercise caution when socializing in public. interiors.
“The pandemic is still here,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer. “It’s time to take off the mask and take off the evidence and be a little more cautious than they were a month ago.”
Santa Clara County is currently experiencing a weekly average of 552 cases, only slightly higher than the number of cases during the peak of the Delta wave that hit in the summer of 2021. Cases are being driven by two cousins of the omicron BA.1 strain that caused a large increase during the winter, which are now dominant in the rest of the country.
Cody’s announcement did not include any public health mandates, and offered no benchmark for when and if the county would impose one. But Cody left the door open to tighten the rules.
“I would say that at this point in the pandemic, no one wants to impose restrictions,” he said. “At the same time, we also know that we have to think about the whole community and in particular the people who are most vulnerable and need restrictions to protect themselves. What I want to happen is for everyone to understand where we are. And understand that they are at risk because we have many viruses circulating now. And it’s on its way up.”
The county also has between 80 and 100 people currently hospitalized with COVID, an increase from mid-to-late April, when there were between 65 and 75 people hospitalized. Cody said Tuesday that he expects these numbers to go up. COVID deaths in the county are trending down, however that metric tends to rise after cases peak.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Cody also encouraged unvaccinated people to get vaccinated and urged those who are eligible for their second booster shot to get one, including the elderly and those who are immunocompromised. The health officer noted that there has not been much demand for the second booster. Within the county, 29 percent of those age 65 and older have received a second booster, while only 15 percent of those ages 50 to 64 have received one.
On Tuesday, other counties in the Bay Area were also keeping an eye on the steady rise in COVID cases.
At the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said his department has no plans for upcoming public health mandates. However, if hospitalizations continue to rise and widespread “long” COVID symptoms return, Moss said the mask mandate is likely to return.
San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco counties have no current plans for a mask requirement, according to their health departments.
In response to the rising number of cases, San Jose has chosen to reinstate a mask mandate for its employees through May 20, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a city spokesperson. BART also requires masks for passengers through mid-July.
Local outbreaks are also beginning to emerge in the region. Last week, at least 60 Los Gatos High School students tested positive for COVID over a 14-day period. Days earlier, the San Francisco Giants announced they would limit access to their clubhouse after several players tested positive for the virus.