Good news for Pride revelry! Even though the current uptick in COVID cases doesn't seem to be stopping anyone relatively young from partying right now, one local infectious disease expert says that the surge should peak in the next week or so if it hasn't already, and be over by late June.
"[This surge was] so expected. It was seen in New York, UK saw it, Europe saw it," says Dr. Monica Gandhi, the UCSF infectious disease specialist who has been something of a pragmatist/optimist about COVID from early on.
Speaking to ABC 7 today, Dr. Gandhi says that "we are going to see this BA2.12.1 probably peak at the beginning of June, according to these models. And then by the third week of June we should be out of this."
Daily COVID case numbers are still high in San Francisco and elsewhere around California — with cases beginning to climb locally before they did in the rest of the state. And these numbers remain significant undercounts, due to the widespread use of at-home tests, and people with mild cases not seeking out PCR tests that will take days to confirm what they already know.
As SFist noted earlier this week, COVID hospitalizations in California are up 100% from a mid-April low, and in the Bay Area they are back to levels we saw in early March. As of Thursday, there were 703 people with COVID in Bay Area hospitals — some of whom may have been admitted for unrelated conditions and were then found to have COVID. The last time the hospitalization count in our region topped 700 was March 4.
"Cases are going up in places that have less natural immunity, and that would be unfortunately here in California because we were much more locked down than other states," Dr. Gandhi tells ABC 7.
On the plus side, there are far fewer people in ICUs than in previous surges, and deaths remain uncommon.
"We have high rates of vaccination — higher than almost any other state and then also any immunity that we are getting now even from cases, on top of having vaccine-induced immunity, is just making our rate of severe disease even lower," Gandhi adds. "So we have to go through this period."
The data for San Francisco suggests that cases may already have been leveling off here a week ago, with the seven-day rolling average of new cases hitting 486 as of May 19. The trajectory of this surge was nowhere near as steep as the first Omicron wave, even though it's been clear there's a lot of virus still going around.
Previously: COVID Hospitalizations in California Up 100% From Mid-April Low; Bay Area Returns to Early March Levels
Photo: Mercedes Mehling