Coronavirus update for December 27, 2020 in Silicon Valley – Peninsula Doctor letter #19.

Covid-19 Testing in the Bay Area

It’s been two weeks since our last update, and unfortunately, California has seen a fairly rapid rise in cases. Southern California has borne the brunt of this increase, with Los Angeles County averaging about 1 new case per 1000 people per day over the last week. Locally, we’ve seen roughly half of that: 1 new case per day per 1700 people in Santa Clara County, and 1 per 2500 in San Mateo County.

At the time of our last letter, on 12/10, Stanford had about 50 patients with Covid-19 in the hospital. As of 12/24, that number was at about 100. Stanford reviewed their capacity and surge planning during a recent town hall on 12/23, recording can be found here.

They reported that while they are busy, Stanford is still able to provide the same level of care, and they still have plenty of capacity. Other local hospitals including El Camino and Sequoia have reported similarly. While it looks like cases have stopped increasing in California and the Bay Area over the last few days, this may reflect less testing and reporting due to the holidays. It’s also unclear whether or not there will be an uptick in new cases over the next few weeks due to holiday social gatherings.

As most of you have probably heard, a new variant of the coronavirus was recently identified in the United Kingdom that may be more contagious than other variants. This new strain contains mutations that may give it an advantage in binding to cells, and increase its transmissibility. It does not appear to cause any change in the severity of the illness. Most of the data suggesting that it is more contagious comes from analyses on how quickly it became the dominant strain in some areas of Southeast England. Mutations and new variants are common in all viruses, and this is not a surprising development. Experts don’t think that this will have a significant impact on the efficacy of the vaccines that have been developed. I expect that we will learn more about this variant, and whether or not it is a significant concern, in the coming weeks.

Vaccine deployment continues in hospitals for workers in the emergency rooms and ICUs, as well as for residents and workers at residential care facilities.

We have registered with the State and County Health Departments to receive vaccines when they are available. There is still no information yet as to when we will receive a vaccine, and when it will be available to the general public.

We hope that this letter finds you well, and that you are able to find joy in your lives, in spite of the current challenges. We wish you and your family a healthy and Happy New Year!

Dr. Ian Kroes and Dr. David Hiroshima

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