COVID-19 cases down across California because of several factors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed Sunday that COVID-19 cases are going down statewide. Newsom pointed to a month ago when there were 20,000 new coronavirus cases being reported. On Sunday, there were 6,760.

California's 7-day positivity rate, or the percentage of performed coronavirus tests that are positive, was at 9.3% one month ago. Sunday, the number was at 3.1%.

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Hospitalizations are also down 41% across the state, and down 38% in California ICU wings.

Doctor Christopher Colwell, chief of the emergency department at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, feels hopeful as he notices a decline in COVID-19 cases.

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Luz Pena: "When would you say was that moment when you realized cases were going down?"

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Dr. Colwell: "It was 10 days ago and it was a shift that I did in the emergency department. That was the first time in probably two months that I didn't feel like virtually every other patient that I was going in to see either had COVID, or I was worried had COVID."

From seeing multiple COVID cases per shift to this: "Just this past week, there was a shift where we had three and prior to that it was even less than that," said Dr. Colwell. "It has been really a dramatic decrease in the number of patients we are seeing in the emergency department."

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But what's driving this decline? It turns out there are multiple factors.

1. "First and foremost, we are through the holiday New Year time period when we saw just a lot of social gatherings," said Dr. Colwell.

2. "We are also abiding by the precautions and maintaining social distancing. We are maintaining masking for the most part," said Dr. Colwell.

3. "The combined effect of those who have now in our community, who've had COVID-19 and have some immunity based on that and those who are now being vaccinated," said Dr. Colwell.

According to the latest statewide data, 1.9 million Californians have been fully vaccinated. Dr. Colwell said a change of behavior will add to this decline.

"I'm happy to wear a mask longer. Not that I like it, but I'm happy to," said San Francisco resident Katarina Eakerova.

"Picked up a lot of hygiene habits during COVID, so sanitation is one and social distancing," said San Francisco resident, Vaivahv Khedr.

Dr. Colwell also noticed that the COVID-19 patients coming into the emergency room are younger. It points to many seniors already being vaccinated.

Luz Pena: "We are getting close, so what's your projection? When do you think we'll be able to say we are out of the woods?"

Dr. Colwell: "We should expect that we will have everybody vaccinated by the end of July. So certainly by the end of this summer. We should absolutely have our communities as a whole vaccinated."

Even with the decline in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Colwell said we still need to be cautious as multiple variants are circulating in the Bay Area.

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