Bay Area’s summer COVID surge has peaked, but risks still persist

Coronavirus case rates and test positivity are steadily declining in California and the Bay Area, signaling that the region is finally on the downside of this summer’s record-long COVID-19 surge driven by successive waves of omicron subvariants.

But while the worst may have passed, the amount of viruses in the community remains far higher than in April before the surge, and hospitalizations — a lagging indicator of infection rates — are still high.

Health officials caution against complacency and the possibility of new immune-evasive versions of the virus that could prolong the pandemic into the fall. They recommend that people maintain on their guard against infection or reinfection through vaccination, boosters and voluntary indoor masking.

“We’re in a good place, for sure, but we can’t ignore the virus,” said Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist with UCSF. “Things can get unpredictable.”

Though the peak in cases occurred several weeks ago, continued swings in reported numbers made it impossible until now to be certain of the downward trend.

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