Thanksgiving Revealed a Significant Spike in Cases Across the Bay Area

Last month, Bay Area officials repeatedly reminded the public to cancel any planned trips or celebrations for Thanksgiving. They issued the warnings due to the rising number of cases occurring within the state since the first week of November.

However, the majority of people seemed to have ignored the warning. Moreover, officials’ worst fear has come true.

Recent data has shown that post-Thanksgiving events made dramatic increases in Bay Area’s COVID-19 cases. Out of the state’s nine counties, the past week reported a sharp rise in the rolling daily average number of infections per 100,000 people. From December 2’s count of 23 cases, that number skyrocketed to 35 on Tuesday.

Health Officers and Epidemiologists Predict the Beginning of COVID-19 Surge

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California Health and Human Services, said on Monday that the recent new cases showing up were the results of last Thanksgiving’s trips and gatherings. Dr. Ghaly also noted that the state would witness another surge of infections in the coming days and weeks. 

According to UC Berkeley infectious disease expert John Swartzberg, the number of new COVID-19 cases would increase for the next five or six days. Swartzberg assumed that the infections began showing up around December 6 or 7.

Swartzberg stated that it’s safe for people to think that the new cases resulted from the Thanksgiving holiday. Additionally, he noted that since early October, Bay Area had seen a rise in the number of infections. However, Swartzberg pointed out that the last three weeks revealed an alarming spike of virus contractions across the state.

UCSF infectious disease expert Monica Gandhi explained that it takes about five days for the virus to reproduce. She also noted that people could receive their test results after several days. Gandhi stated that exposure to the disease from Thanksgiving gatherings should occur around December 4 or 5, depending on when people took their swab tests. Gandhi believes that everyone would become more vigilant and careful with the coming holidays after Thanksgiving brought alarming increases in COVID-19 infections.

Gandhi hopes that the spike in cases would not continue in the days and weeks to come. Despite multiple warnings issued by officials, many of the Bay Area residents still travelled to other places and held gatherings on Thanksgiving Day. 

Meanwhile, Napa County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio has different predictions from the other medical experts. Relucio said that cases related to Thanksgiving appeared as early as December 1. On Thanksgiving and the day after that, testing sites remain closed. 

Napa Valley’s case rate last week has reached groundbreaking highs. In the past seven days, the state saw an increase of 65 infections from an average of 30 per 100,000 people. Back in summer, Napa valley never saw the daily case rate hit 20 and beyond.

Relucio stated that Bay Area officials have only begun to see the effects of Thanksgiving celebrations and trips on case numbers. She also admitted that the country’s complacency against the virus resulted in another COVID-19 surge.

Dr. Ori Tzvieli, an officer of the Contra Costa County Health Department, also predicted that Thanksgiving would bring about a rise in new daily cases. Despite anticipating correctly, Tzvieli confessed that he and other medical experts did not expect the spike in infections to surpass their estimated threshold.

Tzvieli’s concerns lie on slowly dwindling ICU and hospital capacity across the state. He revealed his hopes of not wanting to overwhelm hospitals with new cases so that other patients could get proper medical attention and care.

According to Tzvieli, a significant spike in new COVID-19 cases began on November 28. Over the last two weeks, the case rate has doubled in number, with Thanksgiving recording a daily average of 20 infections. As of December 8, that number jumped up to 40.