SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County health officials warned residents Thursday of a potential spread of COVID-19 variants in the area after all four of the variants were discovered in the county.
At a press conference that morning, Santa Clara Public Health Department Director Dr. Sara Cody, announced that while the number of COVID-19 cases had plateaued in the county, there were signs of increases.READ MORE: Fresno Search And Rescue Team Finds Palo Alto Hiker Missing For 48 Hours
“The numbers are picking up, and right now we’re in a race between the variants and the vaccine,” Cody said.
Cody said healthcare workers have seen all four of the COVID-19 variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan and South Africa in the county, and some cases of those variants are picking up. In response, Cody and other officials pushed residents to obtain vaccinations as soon as possible and remain in lockdown.
“The top line message is: you are far more protected if you’re vaccinated than if you’re not, and the more people vaccinated in Santa Clara County, the safer we are,” Cody said.
Vaccinations in the county are going as well as they can do limitations in supply, according to Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, the county’s testing and vaccine officer. As of Thursday, a third of the county has had at least one dose and 20% totally completed. The county just opened up vaccination eligibility to residents 50 and older, and Fenstersheib expects the county to reach its goal of 80% of residents vaccinated by August.
“Please be patient, please protect yourself because we don’t want the variants to cause a problem with people who have not yet been vaccinated or develop additional variants,” Fenstersheib said. “The more the virus is allowed to replicate, the more chance there is for additional mutations and variants.”READ MORE: Man Wanted In Vallejo Fatal Shooting Arrested
The calls for precautions like mask, social distancing and limiting travel come at a time when many are eager to put the pandemic and year-long lockdowns behind them.
“Everybody is chomping at the bit to get together, especially since Easter is coming up. Everybody wants to see one another. It’s kind of like that analogy where they say people get into the most accident a mile from home,” says Joe Nakamura who received his second shot at the county’s Berger Avenue site.
Nakamura says he’s tried to remain safe throughout the pandemic, hoping to protect family and friends. He said receiving his second shot is a relief.
“I feel a great sense of relief. I feel like I can maybe get my normal life back together,” he said.
Both health officials also pushed residents to continue to operate like the county was still on lockdown. The county’s travel advisory was still in effect and Cody even advised residents to avoid indoor activities like dining.MORE NEWS: 'It’s A Big One'; Weekend Atmospheric River Gaining Intensity Off California Coast
“Even if it’s allowed under the state rules, don’t do it, it’s not safe yet,” Cody said.