SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – As the number of positive COVID cases decreases, questions about mandates increase.
We’re now past the peak of omicron, but the state’s mask mandate is in place until Feb. 15.
Omicron spread quickly at first, cases quadrupling in a week in the beginning. Now that we’re finally seeing a decline, health experts don’t want to slow that down by easing restrictions.
There have been a lot of positive cases in the last two months, but not a lot of positive outlooks when it comes to omicron.
In Marin County, the variant finally started to trend downward after Jan. 4, but it’s not a fast process according to Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis.
“Our case rates are going down more slowly than they had gone up, we’re now seeing about 250 cases on average per day in Marin County and that’s been the stable number for the past three to four days,” Dr. Willis said.
Down 40% from the peak of omicron. Alameda County Health Officer, Dr. Nicholas Moss, says omicron also peaked at the beginning of the month.
He’s now paying attention to hospitalizations, which tend to lag behind case numbers.
“I think we’re at peak with hospitalizations we are very similar to where we were with last winter’s surge,” Dr. Moss said.
Before the first positive omicron case in the country was discovered in San Francisco, the watersheds of Santa Clara County detected the variant.
Dr. Sara Cody says the vaccines helped prevent hospitalizations, but they weren’t 100% effective.
“That’s why we pair it with masks, so if you where a mask and everyone around you wears a mask, that adds a very important layer of protection,” Dr. Cody said.
In California, masks are still required indoors regardless of vaccination status until at least Feb. 15.
Though omicron is on the decline, health officers in the Bay Area say it would be a mistake to lift mandates now.
“We do not want to threaten the progress that we’ve achieved through those behaviors, through those mandates by prematurely lifting them,” Dr. Willis said.
Staying the course for the next few weeks, but with a positive outlook.
“We will have a chance to hopefully, as we have done over time throughout the pandemic. Remove more and more of the restrictions,” Dr. Moss said.
Health officers are also seeing a small number of cases of a sub-variant of omicron called BA.2.
They say it doesn’t seem to be that different from omicron when it comes to spreading or the cause of severe disease.