UCSF doctor calls CDC director's emotional warning of 4th COVID-19 surge 'a little alarmist'

SAN FRANCISCO -- The head of the CDC issued a blunt warning Monday of another possible coronavirus surge, but a California doctor has a different perspective.

"I'm gonna lose the script and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, with a very emotional plea to Americans, asking them to hold on a little longer amid fears of a fourth COVID-19 wave.

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"We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I'm scared," said Wolesnky during a Monday briefing.

Hospital admissions are up more than 10% across 17 states in the last week. The number of deaths are rising too. In Michigan, hospitals seeing a surge of patients in their 30s and 40s.

But UCSF infectious disease specialist, Dr. Monica Gandhi, told our sister station in San Francisco there's evidence to support optimism.

"Dr. Gandhi, are you as concerned about this possible fourth surge as the CDC director?" asked KGO-TV's Kate Larsen.

"No I'm really not concerned. I, in fact, am feeling really hopeful and optimistic that we're going in the right direction. So I think it was a little alarmist," Dr. Gandhi said.

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According to the CDPH, COVID cases and deaths are down in California. The only number that's going up right now is vaccines administered.

"In San Francisco, 42% of us have received one dose, we had 29% antibody prevalence as estimated by the state of California a month ago. We are getting to herd immunity, that's why our cases are so low," said Dr. Gandhi.

Kate Larsen: "Is there a difference between San Francisco, the Bay Area, California and a lot of these East Coast and Midwest states that are seeing a surge right now?

Dr. Monica Gandhi: "Yes, I do actually see a difference."

"Were not totally easing all our restrictions. We're doing it carefully, we're doing it prudently," said Dr. Gandhi, who also explained that, "we have a lot of natural immunity sadly from our last surge because it was so bad, and some of these places like Michigan didn't have a lot of natural immunity."

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Dr. Alok Patel, who is part of KGO-TV's vaccine team, says if there is a fourth wave, we should now have a cushion because of the vaccine.

"A large proportion of Americans over 65 have gotten a vaccine, so even if we see surges, fingers crossed we will not see as many hospitalizations or deaths as we saw in the first three waves," Patel said.

And on April 1, anyone 50 and older will be eligible for the vaccine. And on April 15, anyone 16 and older will be eligible.
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