SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — By now most San Francisco Bay Area residents have lost count of the number of waves of COVID infections that have swept through the region since the start of the pandemic, but nearly everyone knows a friend, family member or work colleague who has recently suffered with some symptoms of the virus.
Santa Clara Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody isn’t quite sure how to categorize the latest spike in cases related to the BA 2 variant.
“I think it’s a matter of debate whether we call it a wave or a swell, or what have you,” Dr. Cody said. “But it is the sixth time, so I’m calling it for now a ‘swell wave’.”
Unlike many of the past surges, the recent infections for the most part have had milder symptoms — low grade fever, scratchy throat, runny noses.
But it’s the nature of a mRNA virus like the coronavirus to continually mutate and evolve. Dr. Cody says each new variant has a so-called “growth advantage”, and is significantly more contagious and building upon the previous one.
“So there’s going to be a selection for the virus that can spread more easily and find more hosts,” she told KPIX. “And that’s indeed what this virus is doing.”
Hospitalizations in both the South Bay and Alameda counties have been fairly steady but manageable. In San Francisco County, however, there’s also been a surge of cases and an uptick in people going to the hospital.
Dr. Cody says what health care providers are seeing are more cases of so-called “immune escape.”
“Immune escape is when you have immunity to something from an actual infection or vaccine induced immunity, and then you meet a version of the virus again, and the virus can get around the immunity that your body has built up,” she said.
While masks are no longer required except on BART trains, Dr. Cody says it’s important continue to wear one when you’re going to be indoors with a crowd.
But many Bay Area residents simply have become resigned to the fact they will fall victim to the virus.
“That is an understandable feeling,” Dr. Cody said. “I just want to caution that you can get infected more than once. And so, ‘getting it over with’ doesn’t mean it’s over with, because you could still get infected again.”
Among those who has recently suffered from COVID is high school counselor Maiya Marshall, who has been exposed to the virus multiple times and now has mild symptoms.
When asked if she had resigned herself to eventually being infected she said: “Yes and no, because I do wear masks all the time and I’m fairly careful. But also, a lot of people are getting it who are very careful at this point.”
Dr. Cody also advised those who have not been vaccinated or boosted to get their shots. You may get an infection, but your symptoms will be must milder if you have taken that precaution.
“Being vaccinated protects you from severe illness and hospitalization,”‘ she said.