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COVID-19 cases rise with new variant, Eris, as California school year begins

California COVID cases rise as school year begins
California COVID cases rise as school year begins 02:56

SACRAMENTO — A summer wave of COVID-19 is hitting just as kids and teachers head back to campus. California is seeing a little more than a 10% increase in cases.

"We really do need the updated vaccines," Professor and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital Dr. Dean Blumberg.

Dr. Blumberg, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at UC Davis Health, said it is not a huge surge but it's impacting all ages.

"We have seen about a 10% increase in hospitalizations for COVID," said Dr. Blumberg. "We have not seen an increase in the death rate for COVID."

That is because, Dr. Blumberg said, about 97% of people have some form of immunity to covid either from previous infection or vaccination.

Gone are the early days of the pandemic waiting in line for a COVID-19 test, but for the La Familia counseling center in south Sacramento, "It is so important to meet them where they are and to connect with them," said Program Administrator Karen Duenas.

It is one of the few spots with its doors still open for free COVID tests every Monday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Maple Neighborhood Center located on 37th Avenue in south Sacramento.

"Since 2020, we have administered over 34,000 tests and over 7,000 vaccines and counting," Duenas said.

Dr. Blumberg believes the number of cases may be underreported because so many people are choosing to test at home. That is why COVID-19 cases are often counted now by wastewater surveillance.

"Even though COVID is primarily a respiratory infection, it is excreted in the stool so if you test sewage samples from the whole population, you can really get a good idea of how much is out there," said Dr. Blumberg. 

He expects a winter surge if the vaccine for the new variant is not ready by then.

"I think everyone is tired of it," said Dr. Blumberg. "I am tired of it too, but it still is out there and it still could be potentially dangerous to people, so continue to take it seriously."

San Juan Unified School District said it currently has three staff members who tested positive for COVID. Sac City Unified currently has one case. Both districts have not started classes yet, but say they are prepared to respond to COVID cases.

"I do anticipate that the schools have learned a lot about screening people for illness and excluding people who are symptomatic so they don't infect others," said Dr. Blumberg.

Sac City Unified School site testing ended due to the end of Public Health Emergency funding last Spring, but the district said it continues to provide central testing at the Serna Center, which it said is beyond what is required by Sacramento County Public Health.

"Continue to test. Stay vigilant," said Dr. Blumberg.

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