SAR2-COV-2 Variants Continue to Spread Across Santa Clara

With loosening vaccination requirements, coronavirus variants are reaching uncomfortable highs of prevalence.

Health officials are urging people not to loosen their guard as Santa Clara risks not being able to keep up with vaccination demand

SIU News

Health officials are urging people not to loosen their guard as Santa Clara risks not being able to keep up with vaccination demand

Jason Lin

Treachery is unfolding. As Santa Clara school districts move into Spring Break next week, major concerns over coronavirus variants have taken hold with public health officials. Throughout the county, minimal genomic sequencing has revealed a considerable spread of the infectious and semi-vaccine resistant variants. The county now has 92 cases of the more infectious B.1.1.7 variant, up from 15 cases last week. Santa Clara County also reported three cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa and one case of the P.1 variant from Brazil. Both of which are believed to be somewhat vaccine-resistant.

Furthermore, Santa Clara has identified its first two cases of variants from New York that have a mutation that may make them resistant to vaccines. Out of 1,000 cases, two novel California-bred variants have been detected. Early studies have found those variants to be more infectious than the original coronavirus and resistant to vaccines.

In order to prevent the potential 4th wave of coronavirus, health officials have been scrambling to intensify vaccinations and distancing measures. Health officers, such as Dr. Sara Cody, are advocating for vigilance and to avoid indoor activities as much as possible.

“After really good progress and consistent declines in positivity rates and case rates since the first week in January, we are now seeing our case rates flatten, and some indication that they’re beginning to tick up,” Cody said at an MSN news briefing Thursday morning. “Unfortunately we still all need to be very aware and very cautious to prevent any surge or even a (smaller) swell,” she said. “The top line message is you are far more protected if you’re vaccinated than if you’re not, and the more people vaccinated in our county and our community, the safer we all are.”

The rise in coronavirus cases is especially concerning because of major hurdles regarding vaccination supply. Even though California announced that effective April 1 all people 50 and older will be eligible for vaccination, the state has yet to confirm a stable supply of vaccine doses. Despite these concerns, California’s health board is optimistic about the month to come. 

Based on the current estimates, “California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million doses in the second half of April. California currently receives about 1.8 million doses per week… The state has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week, and is building the capacity to administer 4 million vaccines weekly by the end of April.”

Despite the risks, Santa Clara is continuing with reopening under Orange Tier. Across the county, all indoor businesses will have the capability to open at half capacity with proper social distancing protocols. However, even with such precautions, the risk of coronavirus variant infections is very real and very dangerous. As March turns to April and winter to spring, many people are feeling the urge to leave home in a frenzy of “Cabin Fever”. However, with cases plateauing and potentially rising, the situation in Santa Clara remains at a precarious limbo which could fall into disaster or success.