It seems so long ago when in the Spring of 2020 the entire world began learning about the devastating realities of COVID-19. While so many lives were lost, thousands of lives were saved because of incredible actions from the Santa Clara County community. More than two years later, the continually mutating virus is still with us, but we have learned how to better live with it.
The current level of COVID-19 circulating in Santa Clara County remains high. Case count data indicates we have plateaued where we still see more than 1,000 reported new cases every day, and we know that is a vast undercount as many are using home antigen tests that are not reportable. While not reportable, home tests provide invaluable speed when people are feeling symptomatic or who may have been exposed to COVID-19. To obtain a free at-home test kit, visit sccfreetest.org to order online, or visit Better Health Pharmacy at Better Health Pharmacy at 725 E Santa Clara St, #202, San Jose, CA 95112. The pharmacy is open Tuesday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
“The County is continuing to see elevated levels of COVID-19 in our wastewater, another indicator that the virus remains highly prevalent in the community,” said Assistant Health Officer Dr. Sarah Rudman of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. “The continued high levels of COVID-19 are reflected in our hospitals, where the number of positive COVID-19 intakes is at the highest level seen in this most recent wave of infections.”
Moreso than in previous waves, there are a significant number of hospital intakes admitted for reasons other than COVID-19, but who test positive for COVID-19 when screened. We are fortunately seeing that current cases admitted for COVID-19 tend to be less serious than in the past.
WHEN TO QUARANTINE
If you test positive, you have COVID-19 and should isolate from others and follow the Isolation guidelines (https://covid19.sccgov.org/covid19-guidelines), wear a well fitted mask if you have contact with others, and avoid indoor gatherings. Do not get an additional PCR test.
For people who are at higher risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19 because of other medical conditions, older age, or having a compromised immune system, it is especially important to get tested. If you test positive, you may qualify for early treatment to reduce your risk of severe illness.
The highly infectious BA.5 variant makes up more than half the samples collected from wastewater locations in Santa Clara County and has become the dominant strain in other areas as well. It remains to be seen whether BA.5 will result in more serious infections. New variants have been identified in other parts of the world and, like previous mutations that began across the world, could soon find their way to Santa Clara County.
This all means there is still a need for people to take appropriate precautions, especially when gathering in groups. We, along with the State of California, continue to strongly recommend masking, especially when indoors, but also when outdoors in large gatherings where people are in close contact with one another. Well-ventilated places, especially outdoors, are safer than indoor areas with poor air circulation.
While there is currently no plan to initiate a new mask mandate, masking remains a key protective tool against infection and harmful outcomes, including long COVID.
As always, vaccines and boosters remain the best first line of defense to protect yourself from severe illness. Now the youngest segment of our population is eligible for this critical protection. We continue to strongly recommend that everyone be fully vaccinated and up to date on any recommended boosters. Vaccination and booster appointments can be made at sccFreeVax.org.