With the Bay Area currently showing the highest Covid-19 infection rates in California, health officers are reminding people of the importance of safety precautions such as continued masking indoors and vaccine boosters.
The current wave of infections is fueled by the highly contagious Omicron subvariants, according to a press release endorsed by 12 public health officers from the Bay Area and surrounding counties. Each county in the region is seeing increases in reported Covid-19 cases, higher levels of virus in sewer sheds and more hospitalizations.
In San Benito County, the rolling seven-day average case rate is 11.4 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the county’s health and human services agency website. Rates in surrounding counties are 29.7 in Santa Clara, 33.7 in Santa Cruz, 10.2 in Monterey and 5.6 in Merced.
There are currently 35 active cases of Covid-19 in San Benito County.
Actual case rates are higher than those reported because of the widespread use of home tests, says the press release.
The health officers reiterate their continued support for people to mask up indoors, keep tests handy and ensure they are up to date on vaccinations by getting boosters when eligible.
“If you’ve chosen not to wear a mask in indoor public places recently, now is a good time to start again,” said Dr. George Han, Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer. “Highly contagious subvariants are spreading here. If you add layers of protection like a high quality mask, it reduces risk to you and the chance you’ll infect others.”
Although not required, indoor masking is “strongly recommended” by the California Department of Public Health, and health officials say wearing higher-quality masks indoors—such as N95, KN95 or snugly fitting surgical masks—is a “wise choice that will help people protect their health,” the press release says.
The health officials noted that vaccines remain the best protection against severe disease and death from Covid.
According to the county’s website, 75% of San Benito residents have completed their primary vaccine doses, and 38% have received booster shots.
A total of 99 San Benito County residents have died with Covid-19 since the pandemic began. Ninety-one of those deaths were unvaccinated people.
People should also stay home if they feel sick, and get tested immediately, the health officials added. Testing is encouraged after potential exposure, and it is recommended that large gatherings be limited to the outdoors or well-ventilated spaces.
The May 13 press release was endorsed by the health officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma counties as well as the City of Berkeley.