Sacramento County Health Director Peter Beilenson told CapRadio's Insight he thinks the county could avoid another coronavirus wave, but still cautions residents to avoid private gatherings as the fall and winter holidays approach.
"Sacramento obviously can be outdoors much more of the year than, let's say, Baltimore or New York," Beilenson said. "The virus is more easily spread in cold weather because people are indoors. We may not have as significant a second wave as would be expected, potentially.
Sacramento County's general COVID-19 outlook has been improving over the past few months, Beilenson said.
"We were at about 250 to 300 cases per day two months ago," he said. "We're now down to 45 to 90 cases per day, which is really important because we now have enough contact tracers that they can take care, they can trace every single case that comes up."
Schools Look At Reopening Plans
Under the state's reopening guidelines, Sacramento County has been in the red (substantial) tier for two weeks, which means all schools can choose to reopen. While many private schools have done, most public schools are still planning.
"For example, at the public schools at 13 jurisdictions, we're testing all public school staff, teachers, staff, administrative folks, etc. every two weeks and then the kids will be tested as needed," Beilenson said.
Schools that are reopening are looking at hybrid models, where students alternate days that they attend in person, to limit potential spread of the virus.
"So the cohorts are small enough that should anyone come down with that virus … we don't have to close an entire school down," Beilenson said. "We can just quarantine those kids for a couple of weeks."
Beilenson said that while children are less likely to have long-term consequences of the virus, they are still able to spread it to parents and grandparents, especially if they are without symptoms.
Will Sacramento Avoid Another Wave?
With fall and winter holidays approaching, California recently released guidelines restricting private gatherings to no more than three families outdoors for less than two hours.
"So that's to try and deal with the problem of gatherings where we had a lot of cases a couple, three months ago from extended family and friends gatherings," Beilenson said. "We're strongly encouraging people to just have their own family indoors, dining and outdoor dining. They can have friends and other folks as long as they have social distancing."
Beilenson said the county is hoping to avoid the surge in cases that came after the reopening of some businesses in May and the summer holidays.
"We opened up probably too rapidly and we had a big increase in cases. Then we clamped back down again, which is where we are right now," Beilenson said. "And again, we're coming down to 45 to 90 cases per day down from 300. And instead of 300 people hospitalized every day, [that] is down to 75 or 80. The number of deaths have been down dramatically. So we are progressing in the correct fashion."
He encouraged all residents to get flu shots to reduce the strain on the health care system, something that will be important with a potential vaccine months away from being widely distributed.
"I would say that we're stuck in the pandemic's phase probably till next July or August to some extent," he said.
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