Covid-19 takes back a tight grip on the Bay Area, making it the third highest transmission rate in California.
By Kamryn Sobel
With a new surge of Covid-19 underway in California, the Bay Area is seeing as many as 15,055 positive cases within a two-week period. Just behind Los Angeles, the Bay Area is currently experiencing the third-highest transmission rates in the state, causing a lack of Covid-19 tests, ICU beds, and employees across many fields. As students return to school and others return to work, health officials within the Bay Area are expecting this surge to continue due to the new highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Neighboring colleges to Saint Mary’s such as Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State University, and UC Berkeley have decided to return back to virtual learning until January 31st in order to stop the spread of Covid-19 during this peak of the new variant. On January 7th, teachers across multiple districts in Oakland protested to return back to remote learning after about 500 teachers called in sick, as they felt unsafe to work during the Omicron surge.
Other counties in Northern California are facing a shortage of ICU beds as more hospitalizations take place. In Napa County, the emergency services coordinator reported that there are currently no available ICU beds. State-wide, roughly 25% of ICU beds are available. COVID testing has also increased amidst the Omicron surge, therefore lowering their availability to the public. Tests administered by healthcare providers are booked multiple weeks out, while at-home self-testing kits sell out almost immediately when they are restocked.
On December 31st, Saint Mary’s announced to students that they, “are required to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken 48 hours or less before returning to campus in order to attend classes, access campus facilities, and move into the residence halls.” Although the Bay Area has low testing availability, Saint Mary’s responded that “the rapidly changing nature of the Omicron variant is requiring federal, state, and local health officials to update procedures daily. Saint Mary’s is committed to following that guidance and updating as circumstances dictate.”
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Ryan Ford '23,