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Rise In COVID-19 case numbers on Central, South Coasts cause new concern

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Centers For Disease Control
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Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo all considered to be high COVID-19 transmission areas by the CDC.

Public health expert says even though masks aren't required indoors in the region, people should be wearing them.

The latest spike in COVID-19 case numbers on the Central and South Coasts prompted the Centers for Disease Control to push the region into its high COVID transmission category.

"I'm not surprised to see a new variant coming through, and to see people getting reinfected," said Dr. Robert Levin, who is Ventura County’s Public Health Officer.

He talks about the current, highly transmissible COVID variant which is impacting even vaccinated, and boosted people.

"Currently, the variant we are seeing is BA-5," said said Dr. Levin. "It's about 65% of the infections I am guessing in Ventura County."

Dr. Levin says the increasing numbers are concerning. But, one of the key indicators of reaching a crisis stage is hospitalizations. In Ventura County, the county’s eight hospitals are well below critical levels. He says they are at about one-quarter capacity.

The public health expert says with yet another surge on, people need to protect themselves, which means being fully vaccinated and masked.

Los Angeles County appears to be headed back to mandatory masking. But as of right now, new masking requirements appear unlikely for Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.

But, Dr. Levin says even if it isn’t mandatory, you should do it.

"It makes me very happy when I go into indoor public spaces and I see people wearing masks," said Dr. Levin.

As for what’s next… could we see a fall and winter surge, when people are largely inside again because of the weather?

"Winter months historically cause people to come together indoors," said Dr. Levin. "We can anticipate we could see a rise, or a hump, but not necessarily a spike as we did in the past."

Dr. Levin says the CDC, and researchers around the world are closely tracking yet another variant, which is currently growing in India. There have only been three cases of it detected so far in California, but it’s expected to be more widespread in coming months. What’s still unknown is whether it is more transmissible than the current variant.

Dr. Levin says the one thing you can expect is another booster, which would be booster number three, for this fall. He thinks it might even be available by the end of summer.

He says the bottom line is you should make sure you are fully vaccinated and boosted, and wear a mask as much as possible indoors, or even in crowded situations outdoors.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.