Bay Area health officials are urging residents during the holidays to start taking safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus seriously amid a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
Officials have warned local hospitals will reach capacity if the trend of rising numbers continue.
"We are in a critical moment," San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said in a briefing Tuesday. "We can't let the virus get ahead of us that we can't catch up."
Colfax said San Francisco hospitals currently have enough room for COVID-19 patients, but warned the systems could soon be overhwelmed.
"If that happens, simply put and tragically, more people will die," Colfax said. "Let's do everything we can this winter, this holiday season, to prevent this scenario."
San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow on Tuesday also said the holidays are going to be a critical time in battling the pandemic.
"Right now, enough people are acting like they are individuals, carelessly, thoughtlessly, and I would add quite selfishly, whether by intent or not, resulting in a surge in new cases," Morrow said in a statement. "Because of these actions, everyone's lives are disrupted, schools will not function properly, and your favorite businesses will close, likely forever."
Morrow goes on in his statement to point out grim days ahead if the current trend in rising cases and hospitalizations continue.
"I know many of you would like me, or the government, or some external entity to provide some magical remedy to make it all better. It doesn't work that way," Morrow wrote. "While there is an enormous infrastructure stood up to try to protect you, if you don't pay attention to your own actions, you will not like what is to come and how it will impact the people you care about."
"We, as a community, were able to maintain a stable, manageable COVID case rate for almost two months, from early September ending with Halloween. I know we can do it again. It is in your hands."
The statements from Bay Area health officials come after millions are flying for Thanksgiving despite the surge in cases and pleas to stay home during the holiday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, California health officials on Tuesday report COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 81.3% over the last 14 days (currently 5,844) in the state. In addition, COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations in the state have increased 57.2% over last 14 days (currently 1,397), officials report.
Coronavirus Deaths in Your City and State — and Across the US
These charts use daily coronavirus death data from Johns Hopkins University to show the seven-day moving average of deaths at the city, state and country level.
The impact of coronavirus varies enormously in the United States from one place to another.
Source: Johns Hopkins University.
Credit: Visuals by Amy O’Kruk/NBC, data analysis by Ron Campbell/NBC