The Bay Area Calls For More Testing Sites as COVID-19 Surges

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The San Francisco Bay Area has been seeing a rapid surge of coronavirus cases in the past few weeks that have caused officials to discuss putting counties in another state of lockdown.

The region has mostly avoided the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several counties have reported sudden surges of positive cases in the last week. On the other hand, hospitalizations have not significantly risen during that time, but experts worry due to hospitalization rates are about seven to 10 days behind confirmed cases.

Analysts observing the trend said that all counties could be placed into more restrictive tiers after Tuesday’s assessment if the incline continues. Marin is the only county in the Bay Area that has not reported a daily case rate of more than seven cases per 100,000 residents. The widespread infection would most likely push counties to the purple tier, which would force the majority of businesses to close down.

However, many of the counties have been testing a large number of its citizens, leading to adjusted case rates that are much lower than the reported infections. In the Bay Area, the highest most recent seven-day average was recorded in San Mateo at 11.46, which is nearly double what it was two weeks ago at 6.22, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Public health officials are anxious that residents are continuing to increase social gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic. They said that it is one of the major contributing factors to the sudden increase of positive cases in the last few weeks.

The Bay Area began to observe an increase in infections beginning in October, and by the end of the month, the region has recorded about 3,800 new cases, a 34% increase from the previous week. Officials advise the public to be aware of the dangers of gathering in large crowds, especially with the holiday season coming up.

Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas of Solano County said that the Bay Area is currently in a genuine “second wave” of the coronavirus. He expressed her concerns that the region could be forced back into a more restrictive lockdown status if the situation continues to worsen.

Solano County reported 30 cases per day one month ago, but now, it’s reporting upwards of 80 cases every day. The numbers come only 20 shy of the peak experienced in mid-July.

Matyas said that family visits and gatherings played a key factor in the jump of infections. He said that people are coming together more and more than social distancing protocols say is safe. The medical expert said residents are beginning to let down their guard despite the virus not completely being beaten yet.

While recent infections have been focused around younger individuals, Matyas said that in the coming weeks, especially when the holiday season arrives, more elderly people would fall victim to the virus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The spike in COVID-19 cases also caused residents to demand an increased number of testing sites around the region. With more and more testing sites reaching their maximum capacity, officials are pressured to construct more areas to handle the surge of potential cases.

In San Francisco, there are currently 19 city-run coronavirus testing sites, including one at Pier 30 on the Embarcadero. The health committee chairman from the Latino Task Force, Jon Jocobo, said the lines at testings sites are getting longer and longer. He said that about 500 residents in the area are getting tested every day.

Jocobo said that while they were catering to the Latino community in the region, they would not turn away anyone who needed help. He noted that more testing sites were needed to handle the number of people coming in, especially areas with low barriers and easy access for the public.

Dr. Naveena Bobba said that San Francisco is testing more people than any other city in the nation. At least 5,000 tests are done every day. However, many of the people coming are not high priority patients, ABC7 News reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.