On Tuesday, the Bay Area's largest county issued a warning with growing concerns that an uptick in COVID cases could lead to a rise in hospitalizations.
The seven-day average positivity rate is currently at 5% in Santa Clara County. Just a month ago, it was less than 2.5%.
Santa Clara County Health Director Dr. Sara Cody provided an update on the data, urging the public to get vaccinated and to continue masking up.
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At this point, the county does not expect to reintroduce mask mandates or other pandemic restrictions that have since been rolled back. Cody said the county plans to stay in line with the state's rules, which currently strongly recommend - but do not require - wearing masks indoors.
But the county is recommending that residents add an extra layer of protection against COVID-19.
"My message is, the pandemic is still here, we are seeing more activity, and so, it is time to break out your masks, and break out your tests, and maybe be a bit more cautious than you were a month ago," Cody said.
Cody shared that Santa Clara County COVID-19 cases and rates of detection in wastewater are not only on the rise but also at higher levels than the county saw during the Delta surge. The county has also seen an increase of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, worksites, and other facilities where people gather together.
"All metrics that we follow, pretty much, are all ticking up,” Cody said.
She is recommending that the public wear masks indoors, get tested, seek treatment if they're feeling sick, and get vaccinated.
"I do recommend that if you’re eligible for a booster, either first or second, and you haven’t gotten your booster, go ahead and get your booster,” Cody added.
While the county has a very high rate of people with the initial COVID-19 vaccination series and a first booster shot, it reports that only 21.5% of the residents eligible for a second booster shot have gotten theirs yet. For comparison, 70.1% of eligible Santa Clara County residents (ages 12 and up) have received at least one booster dose, and 91.3% of county residents ages 5 and up are vaccinated.
San Jose resident Doug Speidel got his second booster shot at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds Tuesday, prompted in part by hearing about the rise in cases.
"It went great, no lines, couldn’t believe I could just walk right in," Speidel said. "Compared to the beginning [of COVID-19 vaccinations], it's unbelievable how empty it is," he shared.
San Jose residents Mark and Edna Stephensen also went to the county fairgrounds vaccination site to get their second booster doses on Tuesday. In the past week, their kid's families have gotten COVID-19, bringing the recent uptick in cases a little too close to home.
"Being 70, we thought, we don’t want to risk it," explained Mark Stephenson.
"And with the numbers now going up again, we thought, 'we’re gonna do it,'" added Edna Stephensen.
County leaders hope more people follow suit and get the doses they are eligible for.
NBC Bay Area asked Dr. Cody if there is a threshold of hospitalizations or cases that could prompt the county to bring back more pandemic restrictions.
Dr. Cody replied, "I would say at this point in the pandemic, no one wants to issue restrictions."
"At the same time, we have to think about the whole community and particularly people who are more vulnerable and need restrictions to protect them, she continued.
"What I want to happen is for everyone to just understand where we are and to understand they’re at risk because we’ve got a lot of virus circulating now and it's on its way up," Cody added.
"People need to take extra precautions, wear their masks indoors, and be a bit more choosy about their gatherings -take them outside - test, et cetera," she said.