Bay Area COVID cases rise before holidays. Should you change behavior?

People eating indoors with masks off.
People eating indoors with masks off. Photo credit Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – Just when Bay Area residents have gotten used to something resembling a "normal life", case numbers are on the rise again – over a week before many will head indoors for large Thanksgiving gatherings.

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When UCSF Chair of Medicine Dr. Bob Wachter, one of the most prominent national and local voices on COVID-19 protection, said in September he was okay dining indoors again in San Francisco, it was with the caveat that he would stop if cases went up.

Well, they are and he is.

The Bay Area's asymptomatic positivity rate is up, as is wastewater detection, so while Wachter is still fine with small gatherings where everyone has tested – like his poker night – he tweeted on Friday he's no longer eating inside restaurants.

Meanwhile, Wachter’s UCSF colleague, infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, said though he's comfortable going to the gym unmasked now, he may change his mind based on the numbers.

"I think that it is a very dynamic picture," Dr. Chin-Hong told KCBS Radio. "Right now I feel okay, but might not feel okay next week."

It may not be as obvious but COVID should not be forgotten.

"What’s invisible to a lot of people is people in a hospital not doing well on a ventilator," Dr. Chin-Hong told KCBS Radio. "Even today in this lull, we have about 15 people at UCSF hospitals, one of them on a ventilator. You know it's not very obvious outside the hospital walls, but there still is a lot of suffering going on and those are primarily amongst unvaccinated people."

It's not too late for people to get boosted in time for Thanksgiving, although ideally they would have been inoculated last week. However, any shot should have you well protected through the holidays, meaning you won't go to the hospital, but may still get infected depending on who and how many people you're around.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images