News

COVID circulation still relatively high even as cases drop in Santa Clara County

Dr. Sara Cody: 'There's still a significant amount of virus circulating'

Marie Bond prepares to place her self-administered nasal swab into a test tube at a COVID-19 test site run by Santa Clara County at the Center for Performing Arts in Mountain View on Jan. 24, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

While COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County have trended down over the summer, the county's top health official said this week that the level of virus circulating locally is likely higher than the county's case count.

Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said Tuesday that the number of cases locally has decoupled since May from the amount of virus detected in the county's main sewershed in San Jose, which captures sewer water — and by extension, COVID virus particles — from more than 75% of the county's population.

As a result, the amount of virus present across the county is likely two to three times higher than it appears by just looking at the county's seven-day average case count.

"If you look just at the reported case counts, you would conclude 'a ha, we're in the clear, we're almost safe again,'" Cody told the county's Board of Supervisors. "But if you look at the wastewater, you can see, unfortunately that's not really the case.

"There's still a significant amount of virus circulating and therefore our risk of exposure still remains elevated," she said.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

COVID-19-related hospitalizations have also declined along with COVID-19 cases and virus levels in local sewersheds, but Cody noted they are not down to the nadirs they reached between previous waves.

As of Friday, 123 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the county.

"Hospitals are managing and in pretty good shape, but I wouldn't say that they're totally out of the woods as far as needing to provide care for COVID patients," Cody said.

COVID-19-related deaths during the most recent wave of cases tied to subvariant strains of the omicron variant remained far below the peaks of previous surges, which reached levels of 50 deaths per day or more.

That said, the county has still confirmed roughly 500 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of 2022.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

The relatively flat death rate, Cody suggested, is due to the county's high vaccination rate and, among unvaccinated residents, immunity from previous infection.

As of Monday, 87.3% of county residents had completed their initial vaccination series and 69% of booster-eligible residents ages 5 and up have received at least one booster vaccine dose.

"The good news ... is that we're not seeing these big surges in people dying of COVID, and in large part I think that's due to widespread vaccination and boosters," she said. "Pretty much the whole population has some immunity of one kind or another."

Cody declined to speculate on how the virus could behave in the winter, citing the unknown of how future variants will coexist with the protection from serious illness that is provided by the available COVID-19 vaccines.

"I can't tell you exactly what's around the corner," she said. "But I can tell you about what we know now and what we can continue to do to keep each other safe, even as we return to something that feels, at this point, pretty normal, which is nice."

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Your support is vital to us continuing to bring you covid news. Become a member today.

COVID circulation still relatively high even as cases drop in Santa Clara County

Dr. Sara Cody: 'There's still a significant amount of virus circulating'

by Eli Walsh / Bay City News Foundation /

Uploaded: Wed, Oct 5, 2022, 4:04 pm

While COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County have trended down over the summer, the county's top health official said this week that the level of virus circulating locally is likely higher than the county's case count.

Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said Tuesday that the number of cases locally has decoupled since May from the amount of virus detected in the county's main sewershed in San Jose, which captures sewer water — and by extension, COVID virus particles — from more than 75% of the county's population.

As a result, the amount of virus present across the county is likely two to three times higher than it appears by just looking at the county's seven-day average case count.

"If you look just at the reported case counts, you would conclude 'a ha, we're in the clear, we're almost safe again,'" Cody told the county's Board of Supervisors. "But if you look at the wastewater, you can see, unfortunately that's not really the case.

"There's still a significant amount of virus circulating and therefore our risk of exposure still remains elevated," she said.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations have also declined along with COVID-19 cases and virus levels in local sewersheds, but Cody noted they are not down to the nadirs they reached between previous waves.

As of Friday, 123 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the county.

"Hospitals are managing and in pretty good shape, but I wouldn't say that they're totally out of the woods as far as needing to provide care for COVID patients," Cody said.

COVID-19-related deaths during the most recent wave of cases tied to subvariant strains of the omicron variant remained far below the peaks of previous surges, which reached levels of 50 deaths per day or more.

That said, the county has still confirmed roughly 500 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of 2022.

The relatively flat death rate, Cody suggested, is due to the county's high vaccination rate and, among unvaccinated residents, immunity from previous infection.

As of Monday, 87.3% of county residents had completed their initial vaccination series and 69% of booster-eligible residents ages 5 and up have received at least one booster vaccine dose.

"The good news ... is that we're not seeing these big surges in people dying of COVID, and in large part I think that's due to widespread vaccination and boosters," she said. "Pretty much the whole population has some immunity of one kind or another."

Cody declined to speculate on how the virus could behave in the winter, citing the unknown of how future variants will coexist with the protection from serious illness that is provided by the available COVID-19 vaccines.

"I can't tell you exactly what's around the corner," she said. "But I can tell you about what we know now and what we can continue to do to keep each other safe, even as we return to something that feels, at this point, pretty normal, which is nice."

Comments

John
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2022 at 6:26 pm
John, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2022 at 6:26 pm
Terry Howells
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 7, 2022 at 7:58 am
Terry Howells, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 7:58 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


John
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2022 at 10:47 am
John, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 10:47 am
Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2022 at 11:28 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 11:28 am

Is this now a non-issue?

For the most of us unless we have some underlying health condition which needs more precaution from all types of bugs, are we not now just going to look on this as seasonal colds and flu? Yes, flu can be serious for some and if ignored can become very serious, but that's why there is an annual flu shot which may or may not protect.

If I get a cold, flu or even Covid, I will treat them very much the same.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.