Will Another COVID-19 Surge Happen? Bay Area Doctors Make Predictions

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One year into the coronavirus pandemic, it's looking like life is slowly getting back to normal, but some Bay Area infectious diseases doctors say people shouldn't celebrate yet. Some predict this could just be the calm before another surge.

"In the country, 100%. I hate to be pessimistic," Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF infectious diseases doctor, said. "But I feel that with varying responses by states right now in terms of reopening and not using masks, that’s going to happen, and in the specter of spring break, leading into graduation, etc."

Chin-Hong explained that college-aged people who don't yet quality to get a vaccine will probably travel for spring break and graduation and could bring the virus back home with them.

Then there's the COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom that another expert said is 50% more transmissible and could become dominant in the U.S.

"It appears to be infecting roughly double the number of people every nine or 10 days," Dr. John Swartzberg with UC Berkeley's division of infectious diseases and vaccinology said. "If the doubling continues, it will be the most predominant variant some time within the next about three weeks."

Like the rest of the country, Bay Area counties have already started easing COVID-19 restrictions. The numbers show hospitalizations and case rates have been dropping as more people get vaccinated.

That's why another respected Bay Area doctor disagrees and says she doesn't see another surge coming.

"We are still maintaining restrictions," Dr. Monica Gandhi, a UCSF infectious diseases doctor and professor of medicine, said. "We have not released our mask mandate. We still have 25% capacity. And at the same time, we’re applying the veneer that actually protects us, ultimately, from hospitalizations and cases, which is vaccination."

Chin-Hong hopes he's wrong and Gandhi is right.

"This is the kind of prediction I don’t want to have," he said.

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