Editorial: Five things Californians should do to slow the Delta variant – East Bay Times

With COVID-19 case rates rapidly multiplying, we are witnessing in California and the Bay Area the start of another surge that will hospitalize and take the lives of the unvaccinated and those who are immunocompromised.

It’s doubtful our governor will meet this moment as he should with the steps necessary to prevent the highly contagious Delta variant from exponentially spreading. Gavin Newsom suffers from political paralysis, frozen from doing the right thing because of a recall led by those who resist any restrictions on movement or requirements to wear masks.

It’s up to us — individuals, business leaders, school officials and local government leaders — to fill the leadership void with the tools we have available:

Get vaccinated. The shots are now easily available. If you haven’t gotten yours, now is the time. If you know someone who hasn’t, talk to them and explain why it’s so important.

Wear a mask. Eight Bay Area health officers united last week to urge everyone, vaccinated or not, to cover their faces in indoor public places. It’s a simple request. For the good of the community, please honor it.

Sign up for digital verification. Newsom last month rolled out a vaccine verification system. Everyone who has been inoculated should enroll. And, for the sake of their employees and customers, businesses and entertainment venues should use the system as a requirement for entry.

Mask school kids. Newsom has mandated masks when K-12 schools reopen next month. This is common sense. Sixty percent of students ages 12-17 have yet to be vaccinated, and younger children are not even eligible. They need to get back to school. But we don’t want them getting sick, with potential long-haul health effects, nor infecting older, more-vulnerable members of their households.

Require vaccination of college students. All college and university students should be inoculated, as the University of California is mandating. Higher-education sites are potential super-spreaders.

For those in doubt about the urgency of the moment, consider this: If California were still using its color-coded system for ranking counties by infection rates, at least a dozen, including Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano, would now be in the most-restrictive purple tier. Most of the rest of the Bay Area would be just one step below.

That sobering finding comes from data analysis by Bay Area News Group reporters John Woolfolk and Harriet Blair Rowan. The issue is not the absolute number of cases, it’s the trajectory. If we’ve learned anything from the past 16 months, it’s how quickly coronavirus cases can multiply.

With the new, far-more-contagious Delta variant, cases have tripled nationally in the last two weeks.  In California, they have quadrupled, the 11th worst state-increase rate in the nation. Contra Costa and San Mateo counties have seen more than a doubling in cases during that time. Santa Clara County cases have nearly tripled, and Alameda County has seen more than a fourfold increase.

California numbers are still way below the surge levels we saw over the winter. But the current slope of the curve is sharply up, similar to the trend we saw during last summer’s surge. Hospitalized COVID patients in intensive care have doubled in the past month.

This, even though about half the state is fully vaccinated. It’s not enough. Worse, the inoculation rate has slowed to a trickle.

This is not a moment when we can afford to wait on our leaders to act. The sad irony is that if Newsom hadn’t abandoned the color-coded ranking system, we might not be facing this moment, or it might not be as bad.

But that’s not our reality now. It’s up to each of us to meet the challenge.  Our quick collective and individual actions can make a difference.