Bay Area Counties Have Highest COVID Infection Rates in CA: Report

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San Francisco, and the surrounding Bay Area counties, have the highest COVID-19 infection rates in California right now, according to state monitoring figures released this week.

The California Department of Public Health revealed that San Francisco is averaging 13 COVID cases for every 100,000 people. That’s the highest average in the state. Followed by San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin counties.

“What it reflects is a few things like re-opening,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of UCSF. “We always expected more numbers with re-opening.”

The rising number of COVID cases locally may also be partially because many people in the Bay Area are still testing, even if they’re asymptomatic.  

Something that's not happening as frequently in other parts of the state. 

“San Francisco may be different in that it has a better public sector testing program, and those are tests that get picked up and reported,” said Dr. George Rutherford of UCSF.

But both doctors say San Francisco's current numbers are a drop in the bucket. Compared to the 20,000 daily infections the region was seeing at the height of the omicron surge a few months ago.           

Infection rates in San Francisco and the wider Bay Area are important numbers to keep an eye on, but epidemiologists said that's just one point, in a bigger picture.

What doctors are seeing in hospitals is at least as important, and lately, they're seeing something different.

“Now in this new era we see cases in the community, not much in the hospital, and eerie silence in the ICU,” said Chin-Hong.

And according to data from Wastewater monitoring in San Francisco, Alameda County and Contra Costa County, COVID-19 detection continues to be flat.

Doctors say the combination of high vaccination rates, rising booster rates and prior infection from the omicron surge, add up to a low overall case rate and low hospitalizations.

And when it comes to whether to get a second booster, doctors said those who are eligible, should be strategic about when they get it.

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