Too much, too soon? Bay Area reopening despite recent surge in coronavirus cases

Too much, too soon? Bay Area reopening despite recent surge in coronavirus cases

The Bay Area is rolling forward with reopening the economy even as coronavirus case counts remain comparable to — and in some places far above — the earliest days of the outbreak when the state made the unprecedented move to begin sheltering in place.

Several counties in the Bay Area, which remains more conservative than the rest of the state in its pandemic response, are moving to reopen at a steady clip despite recent surges in cases. The region as a whole is reporting as many new cases each week now as in March, reversing several weeks of declining numbers.

Much of the recent increases have been anticipated due to expanded testing and a natural result of reopening, as more people begin to interact and are exposed to the coronavirus. And public health officials said they are much better positioned now than they were three months ago to handle large numbers of cases at once without stressing local hospitals.

But many experts remain wary of moving too fast to reopen the economy when the virus clearly is still spreading easily in communities.

“I’m very concerned about the pace,” said John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley infectious disease expert. “It’s like the reopening has taken a life of its own. There’s this momentum behind it, and it’s very hard to stop it and pause it.”

The Bay Area has about 15,900 cases, and in the past couple of weeks has been reporting more than 200 new cases nearly every day — levels comparable to late March.

Several counties are reporting recent surges far greater than at any other time in the pandemic. Marin and Napa counties reported their single largest case counts last week, and Alameda and Sonoma also have seen some of their highest numbers in the past two or three weeks.

Erin Allday is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected]

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