News

COVID levels in Santa Clara County sewershed reach pandemic high

Records show concentration of virus surpasses last winter's omicron variant surge

Wastewater samples in Santa Clara County show a higher concentration of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, recently at the Palo Alto sewershed compared to other sections of the county. Courtesy Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

While transmission of respiratory syncytial virus has begun to plateau in Santa Clara County, the county's top health official said Tuesday, Dec. 6, that COVID-19 and flu transmission continue to rise.

A worker examines a bucket of sludge at the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant. The sludge is being tested to determine the amount of genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 virus, which indicates the spread of COVID-19 in communities served by the plant. Courtesy Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control.

COVID-19 virus concentration in each of the county's sewersheds in San Jose, Palo Alto, Gilroy and Sunnyvale is at its highest level in months, according to county Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody.

Those concentration rates are roughly on par with previous surges for now, but the COVID-19 levels in the Palo Alto sewershed — which includes the cities of Los Altos, Palo Alto and Mountain View — are higher than at any point in the pandemic, including the record highs during last winter's omicron variant surge.

COVID-19 levels in the San Jose sewershed, which captures water from roughly 75% of the county, are currently at roughly 84% of the county's omicron peak, but continue to increase rapidly.

Cody also noted that the current number of people with influenza-like illness is "unprecedented" for early December, and RSV, which causes infections in the respiratory tract, continues to affect a significant number of children across the county, even as transmission of the virus slows slightly.

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"We not only have COVID, as we've had the last two winters, but we have flu and RSV and other viruses circulating as well," Cody said during a news briefing Tuesday morning. "So it's like a winter of viral soup."

Among county residents with the flu or other flu-like respiratory viruses, between 7% and 10% of children are currently being admitted to emergency rooms with flu symptoms, compared to less than 2% for adults.

Cody acknowledged a certain amount of fatigue toward COVID-19 and said she doesn't anticipate reinstating a countywide mask mandate or other public health measures, but did urge residents to take precautions during the holidays, particularly when indoors.

"Indoors is not really a safe place anymore, especially if it's crowded and there's a lot of people without masks," she said. "That's a really good time to choose to wear a mask."

Residents who have yet to get a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine with an additional booster dose should also do so as soon as they can, Cody said.

To date, roughly 25% of eligible county residents have gotten the updated booster vaccine, which targets both the original COVID-19 strain and two subvariants of the omicron variant.

That vaccination rate increases among older age groups, according to Cody, but remains under 50% even among people ages 65 and up, who are most likely to become seriously ill or hospitalized with COVID-19.

She noted that while the vaccine does not completely eliminate a person's capacity to contract the virus, it does highly reduce a person's chance of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 or dying because of it.

"That's just not going to get us where we need to be," Cody said of the relatively low uptake for the omicron booster. "That's not going to protect us, that's not going to protect our families and that's not going to protect our health care system."

County residents can contact their primary health care provider, retail pharmacies or visit the county's website at publichealth.sccgov.org/health-information/immunizations for information about getting a flu or COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch Tuesday's full news briefing:

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COVID levels in Santa Clara County sewershed reach pandemic high

Records show concentration of virus surpasses last winter's omicron variant surge

by Eli Walsh / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 9:56 am

While transmission of respiratory syncytial virus has begun to plateau in Santa Clara County, the county's top health official said Tuesday, Dec. 6, that COVID-19 and flu transmission continue to rise.

COVID-19 virus concentration in each of the county's sewersheds in San Jose, Palo Alto, Gilroy and Sunnyvale is at its highest level in months, according to county Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody.

Those concentration rates are roughly on par with previous surges for now, but the COVID-19 levels in the Palo Alto sewershed — which includes the cities of Los Altos, Palo Alto and Mountain View — are higher than at any point in the pandemic, including the record highs during last winter's omicron variant surge.

COVID-19 levels in the San Jose sewershed, which captures water from roughly 75% of the county, are currently at roughly 84% of the county's omicron peak, but continue to increase rapidly.

Cody also noted that the current number of people with influenza-like illness is "unprecedented" for early December, and RSV, which causes infections in the respiratory tract, continues to affect a significant number of children across the county, even as transmission of the virus slows slightly.

"We not only have COVID, as we've had the last two winters, but we have flu and RSV and other viruses circulating as well," Cody said during a news briefing Tuesday morning. "So it's like a winter of viral soup."

Among county residents with the flu or other flu-like respiratory viruses, between 7% and 10% of children are currently being admitted to emergency rooms with flu symptoms, compared to less than 2% for adults.

Cody acknowledged a certain amount of fatigue toward COVID-19 and said she doesn't anticipate reinstating a countywide mask mandate or other public health measures, but did urge residents to take precautions during the holidays, particularly when indoors.

"Indoors is not really a safe place anymore, especially if it's crowded and there's a lot of people without masks," she said. "That's a really good time to choose to wear a mask."

Residents who have yet to get a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine with an additional booster dose should also do so as soon as they can, Cody said.

To date, roughly 25% of eligible county residents have gotten the updated booster vaccine, which targets both the original COVID-19 strain and two subvariants of the omicron variant.

That vaccination rate increases among older age groups, according to Cody, but remains under 50% even among people ages 65 and up, who are most likely to become seriously ill or hospitalized with COVID-19.

She noted that while the vaccine does not completely eliminate a person's capacity to contract the virus, it does highly reduce a person's chance of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 or dying because of it.

"That's just not going to get us where we need to be," Cody said of the relatively low uptake for the omicron booster. "That's not going to protect us, that's not going to protect our families and that's not going to protect our health care system."

County residents can contact their primary health care provider, retail pharmacies or visit the county's website at publichealth.sccgov.org/health-information/immunizations for information about getting a flu or COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch Tuesday's full news briefing:

Comments

rickflucke
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Dec 7, 2022 at 7:01 pm
rickflucke, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2022 at 7:01 pm

I am interested in watching sports.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2022 at 10:16 pm
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2022 at 10:16 pm

Just an Observation,

Since our antibody treatments don't work on the new variants. Now that we have more than 300 variants. Now that vaccines are proven to NOT control infections. We are back in the same situation we were in in March 2020 except our spread is out of control again.

The Washington Post again reported that Covid is the most dangerous problem for the economy. THe article is called "Mass Long-Covid Disability Threatens the Economy" written by Kathryn Anne Edwards is an economist at the Rand Corp. and a professor at the Pardee Rand Graduate School.

With the extremely limited testing we are only aware of an average of 321 cases a day in November BUT our testing was only 4,480 which means we have a positive rate of 7%.

The current rate of mutation appears to be 1 out of 100,000 infections results in new variants. In November we had more ant 130,000 cases, meaning we have a new variant born, not yet detected.

In CA we have had 290K cases per million and more than 100,000 deaths. we had more than 2,500 deaths in November.

Who really thinks that Covid is over? I have confidence that the state of emergency regarding Covid will NOT end in Feb 2023


J Randall
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2022 at 5:31 am
J Randall, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 5:31 am

I took my 7 year old to the Niners vs Dolphins game on Sunday (great game). He had never been to an NFL game before and had great time. It did him so much good to be among his neighbors, rooting for the home team. We realize that we are at risk but willingly accept that risk at this time. We also enjoyed the tree lighting event in Mountain View this week - was so well done - fantastic work whoever put that together.


JAFO
Registered user
Castro City
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:23 pm
JAFO, Castro City
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:23 pm

Just an Observation,

Recently there was a new explosion of Measles reported, why? Because people were not vaccinated.

Mr. Randall, you of course have the right to take on the risks for yourself and your family, but if your children get infected and spread it to others, that is NOT your right.

Given that even the vaccine providers do not claim that the vaccines prevent infection, then it is NOT a vaccine. And we are not protected given the variety of variants that are here now. Most not even identified yet.

I know everyone wants to just forget Covid, but it won't forget us.


J Randall
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2022 at 1:15 pm
J Randall, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Jafo - I would agree that there’s some sort of social negligence at play if someone spread measles, for which there exist a time-tested vaccine. But respectfully disagree on your point regarding community spread. If a barber unknowingly spread covid to a customer, have they been socially negligent? Or were they just trying to make a living? Given the current situation and statistics in Year 3, I believe every child has a right to socialize without inhibition.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:09 pm
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:09 pm

Just an Observation,

Mr. Randall, you cannot distinguish the problem where people make decisions regarding OTHERS risk of harm. Time is not a factor also.

The reality is that since Covid is going to be continuing to damage people and disable them and people are NOT trying to contain it, especially intentionally, you have a real problem here.

There is NO difference whether you are a barber or a student or any individual and you choose to act in the danger of others. In fact that can get you institutionalized. This behavior is called being a danger to yourself or others. This is actually an involuntary policy for the public safety.

Are you going to support also the possiblilty of what is called involuntary manslaughter, a crime. All you need to do is be found the source of infection and that you chose to act contrary to a reasonable persons perspective to due diligent behaviors.

This has been one of the problems that has enabled Covid to get back out of control again, and with so many variants and the increasing rate of them, I feel it may be too late to control it. And thus this could be the first virus that starts the extinction of human beings on this planet.

It will be a chain of them, and this one proved that even with the information age, the human race is too unfit perhaps to survive.


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