Expect a Holiday COVID Surge; New treatments, ‘force field of immunity’ will keep hospitalizations down – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With holiday travel on the rise and celebrating Ramadan, Passover and Passover on the same weekend for the first time in years, residents of the San Francisco Bay Area gathered this weekend at large family or religious gatherings in numbers not seen since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

So, says a leading infectious disease expert, expect a spike in new COVID cases over the next week or so.

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“I think these gatherings will increase cases as people travel across the country,” said UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. “Although California is doing well so far in the sense of only a modest increase. When you look at (Washington) DC, when you look at New York, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, there are increases in cases of up to 100, 150, 200 percent. So when people intersect and move around, it’s definitely going to bring infections all over the country.”

But unlike previous spikes, Dr. Chin-Hong believes hospitalizations will remain low.

“I am very concerned about a possible increase in cases in the community, however, if things go as we hope and I am crossing my fingers, the hospitals will remain calm and that is really the power of the vaccine and the force field of the vaccine. immunity. is,” he said. “Right now cases are up about 25 percent compared to the last few weeks, but on the other hand, hospitalizations are down about 25 percent.”

“We are seeing a decoupling of what happens in the community with what happens in the hospital,” he added.

Unlike past holiday surges, Dr. Chin-Hong believes several factors should play a role in keeping this manageable. High exposure to the Omicron variant and high vaccination rates will combine with new treatments to keep new cases mild.

“Not only do we have fewer people getting really sick, but we have a lot of options to keep people out of the hospital, even if they weren’t vaccinated,” he said. “It’s things like Paxlovid or monoclonal antibodies, etc.”

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“We are seeing mild symptoms: scratchy throat, runny nose, congestion, headache, muscle aches,” said Dr. Chin-Hong. “What we’re not seeing is coughing, shortness of breath, and very little loss of taste and smell.”

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Even with the threat of new infections, Bay Area residents felt a sense of relief and a return to normality as they gathered this weekend.

People gathered for Good Friday services at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. Whether masked or unmasked, people shared their worship side by side.

“It was a beautiful feeling. There is no question about it,” said Camille Martinelli. “I felt God there today… It’s wonderful to be here.”

At Chabad of San Francisco, Rabbi Moshe Lange prepared for a highly anticipated community Passover Seder.

“My favorite part of the Seder is seeing everyone come together with smiles and joy,” Langer told KPIX 5. “One of the focal points of Judaism is being in person. It’s hard to have a celebration if you don’t have family or friends around.”

They had a small in-person Seder last year, but the rabbi said they expect a much larger crowd this year.

“We are going to have a beautiful Seder of 200 people. We are fully booked,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the Islamic Center of San Francisco, there was a gathering to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

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“It’s been amazing, it’s been great, because two, three years ago, my friends couldn’t come, I couldn’t come,” said Ismail Piperdi, 15, a high school student. “And now to come and see my friends, it’s pretty good, it’s great.”

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