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Health officials: San Mateo County's current COVID-19 surge is lasting longer than most, with transmission still high

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Medical assistant Monica Magana draws the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto on Jan. 30, 2021

COVID-19 transmission remains high in San Mateo County, one of the county's top health officials said this week, as the ongoing surge continues to last longer than most previous surges.

According to San Mateo County Health Chief Louise Rogers, the county's census of COVID-related hospitalizations has hovered between 30 and 60 over most of the last three months and was at at 58 as of Monday, Aug. 1.

That figure is lower than the peak of 160 hospitalized patients the county reached during the winter surge of the omicron variant, but is comparable to the peak of last fall's delta variant surge.

Like much of the Bay Area and the state in general, San Mateo County remains in the "high transmission" tier, as outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We continue to strongly recommend wearing a high-quality mask in indoor settings and increasing ventilation -- such as by opening windows and doors where possible -- to help prevent infection," Rogers said in a message to county residents. "We urge residents to test if symptomatic and to be in contact with their physician."

Rogers also urged those who have yet to get vaccinated and boosted to do so. As of Monday, 85% of all county residents have completed their initial vaccination series.

Local health experts have suggested that the current high rate of COVID transmission is setting the stage for a winter surge that may eclipse all other previous surges of the virus.

Dr. Kim Rhoads, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics with the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, argued last week that the public should take steps now to avoid an imminent winter surge by wearing masks indoors with more frequency.

"If you go back and look at the trends (of the last two years), the summer surges have been two-to-three times smaller than the winter surge," Rhoads said. "So if the summer surge that we are in now is the same size as omicron, imagine what's going to happen in this coming winter."

Information about the virus can be found at smchealth.org/coronavirus.