SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – COVID-19 cases are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that there are more than 200 cases per 100,000 people in four Bay Area counties.

Though California has moved away from a color code system, The CDC still uses it to report community transmission levels: green for low, yellow for medium and orange for high. The Bay Area is now considered a yellow zone to the CDC. San Francisco County has the highest transmission of COVID-19 with around 278 positive cases per 100,000 people. Santa Cruz, Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties are also in the yellow.

“A time for just increased awareness and vigilance around the things we’ve been doing for the past couple years,” said Marc Meulman, Director of Public Health San Mateo County.

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Meulman said cases have steadily been increasing the last few weeks, but that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator with around 20 residents of San Mateo County in the hospital with COVID-19.

“It’s increasing, that’s concerning of course, but, correct, the hospital systems are able to manage that,” he said.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, said the Bay Area going yellow is alarming in terms of the probability of catching COVID-19, but especially concerning for a specific group of people.

“People who are older than 65 and unboosted, immune compromised, unvaccinated and unexposed,” he said.

He said there’s still a large population who have yet to receive their first booster shot— but he hopes that changes to help flatten the curve. When it comes to treatment, Dr. Chin-Hong says the drug Paxlovid is a game changer.

“Really prevents people from going to the hospital even if you’re unvaccinated, but you need to take it early enough, so within three-to-five days is the sweet spot and it can prevent 88 to 89 percent of people going to the hospital,” he said. 

Dr. Chin-Hong says the increase of COVID cases should make employers rethink the office environment, from making sure ventilation is adequate to limiting in person meetings.