Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
podcast_1400-MiddayEdition.jpg
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Biden, CDC Director Warn Of Virus Rebound If Nation Lets Up

Speaker 1: 00:00 In the past week, coronavirus cases have risen by as much as 12% nationwide here in California. We have yet to see an increase in coronavirus cases. Is it coming? What can we do to avoid it? Well, joining me to answer those questions is Rebecca fielding Miller and epidemiologist and UC San Diego professor Rebecca. Speaker 2: 00:21 Welcome. Thank you so much for having me. We're currently Speaker 1: 00:24 That's in coronavirus cases, spike here in California. Like they are in other parts of the country, but what are our case numbers looking like statewide and here locally. Speaker 2: 00:34 So in our region and our state, we're seeing things kind of, even out a little bit. They're not really going down anymore, which is too bad. We like to see it go down, but they're also not really going up. And I think a lot of that has to do with the very hard emergency brake that we pulled in November and December with the statewide shelter in place, we saw a really precipitous drop immediately after that happened. And then when it was lifted, we saw a leveling off of cases. Speaker 1: 01:01 How likely do you think it is that that could change and we could see increases similar to those being seen in New Jersey, New York, Speaker 2: 01:08 Michigan. Yeah. So the phrase that I think we're hearing from a lot of experts right now is we're, we're really in a race between the vaccines and the variants. So we know that the new variants, this B one, one seven, this UK variant, we know it's here in San Diego. We know we expect it to be dominant within the month. We know that this variant in Brazil is quite contagious. And with both of these, we're also seeing that younger people seem to be, um, both infected more easily and become ill more easily. And so really the only way to keep numbers down in the absence of continuing to close places where people congregate without wearing masks like restaurants and gyms is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. So that those variants don't have a chance to take off. And so that if somebody does get sick, they have less of a chance of, of infecting someone else. And then the virus can't spread as quickly earlier, you mentioned Speaker 1: 02:02 Right now, this, I guess this place in time rather is being described as a race between variants and vaccines. Hasn't that always been Speaker 2: 02:10 In the case though? The simple answer is yes. And the thing about COVID is it has highlighted really how much we do not exist in isolation. It's really highlighted how deeply interconnected all of us are. And so of course, it's an individual race to get vaccinated before you get sick. That's always been the case. I would like to get vaccinated before I get sick so that I don't get sick. That makes sense. But the more people who are sick, the more people who are hosting the virus, so to speak, the more opportunities that virus has to mutate in a way that makes it more effective at spreading and it making us sick. And so the race in that sense is really to vaccinate enough people that it shrinks the number of opportunities that, that, that, that virus has to mutate in a way that it could potentially take off and, and evade some of these viruses. So it's not just about sort of your individual desire to get vaccinated before you get sick. It's about the need to make sure that we have everybody vaccinated people in Brazil and people in South Africa and people in Malawi, because that's the only way that we're going to dampen down the spread of these variants in a way that will keep everybody safe globally. And in our region Speaker 1: 03:24 Previously, we've seen a spike around holidays, you know, as a Passover Easter, we even just recently had no ruse, uh, and now spring break, they're all upon us. So do you think we'll see another increase? Speaker 2: 03:38 Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a bit of a bump. Um, all the holidays that you just mentioned involve getting together with family eating food. We just had a Seder with other vaccinated families, and it's hard to ask people not to celebrate these holidays, especially when we're coming up on another year of not being able to spend time with our families. Fortunately, I think the people who are most at risk, especially around these family events are the elderly. And now as more and more grandparents and people over 65 are vaccinated that at least brings the consequences of getting together down. But it does also present an opportunity for the virus to spread more quickly as people congregate and then go back to their daily lives. Speaker 1: 04:21 And if we do see an increase in cases, do you expect serious illness, uh, to stay low? Well, Speaker 2: 04:28 So the really nice thing about the vaccines is we've heard that this one is 95% effective and this one is 72% effective. And people get kind of worried about, I want 95, not 72, but the important thing is they are all a hundred percent effective at keeping you out of the hospital and keeping you from dying. And so as more people get vaccinated, it is the difference between a week at home, feeling crummy and obese on a ventilator or losing your family, losing you. And so the vaccines are going to make a real difference in serious illness. But we also know that a lot of people haven't had the opportunity to get vaccinated yet. Um, 70% of the County still hasn't even gotten their first shot. And so we do expect to see more illness, especially because we know what these variants, younger people are getting sicker with this UK variant and with the strain that's taking off in Brazil. And what would you, Speaker 1: 05:20 You encourage listeners to do to slow the spread of the virus? Speaker 2: 05:23 Yeah, so, you know, I also watch the CDC director, his press conference the other day, Dr. Willinsky, um, where she spoke about her, her sense of impending doom and just asking people to hold on. And I can't echo that enough. We are so close. This County has done a phenomenal job rolling out these vaccines. And as soon as we can have enough people vaccinated, that we are all going to be safe, walking around, we're going to have a great summer. We're going to be able to have 4th of July barbecues, but we're not quite there yet. And I think these last six weeks are somehow the most frustrating because the end is in sight, but it's not here yet. And so the more people can just grit their teeth and power through for another couple of months, the more people can be kind and think about the risk that our behavior might be creating for somebody else. For example, going out to a restaurant and what that might mean for a server, a 20 year old server, who hasn't had a chance to get vaccinated yet the sooner this is going to be over and should go, Speaker 1: 06:26 Those who are vaccinated, continue to wear masks and socially distance. Speaker 2: 06:30 Yes, absolutely. And the CDC has put out really good guidelines on this. So we just saw some really great data from UCF, um, saying that it looks like the vaccines, my Darren and Pfizer in particular do prevent about 90% of, um, asymptomatic spread too. But that still means that it's not a hundred percent. So people who are vaccinated can still get the virus. They can still be asymptomatic, they can still spread it. And so it's important that everybody continue to mask to distance. Speaker 1: 07:00 I've been speaking with Rebecca fielding Miller and epidemiologist and UC San Diego professor, Rebecca. Thank you so much for joining Speaker 2: 07:07 Us. Thank you so much. This was fun.

Ways To Subscribe
MiddayEd_generic-new_1ZrWsW9.jpg
In the past week, coronavirus cases have risen by as much as 12 percent nationwide. Here in California, we have yet to see an increase in coronavirus cases. Is it coming? What can we do to avoid it?
KPBS Midday Edition Segments