East Bay Getting to Zero
SARS-CoV-2 scanning electron microscope image from NIAID

This page includes East Bay COVID viral levels, testing, vaccine, masking, prevention, treatment and other resources, updated monthly. Please click here to share feedback.


East Bay COVID updates

February 2023

There are still free COVID vaccines, tests and treatment in the East Bay, available to everyone regardless of immigration and insurance status.

Virus levels:

COVID, RSV and Influenza trends as of February 2:

  • EBMUD wastewater data shows COVID viral levels have been rising since mid-January after coming down from a mid-December peak. This may reflect the increased transmission of the newer XBB1.5 variant. COVID hospitalizations have decreased in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties since a peak in early January. The new immune-evading BQ and XBB variants are now widely circulating in the Bay Area, with XBB1.5 increasing in proportion. California predictions are that levels will increase through February. Immunity lasts 4-6 months, and bivalent boosters add significant additional protection against hospitalization and symptomatic and severe infection, so get your updated bivalent booster if you haven’t yet.
  • RSV peaked in early December and has decreased significantly since then.
  • Influenza cases are now at moderate levels and have been decreasing since December. Hospitalizations in Alameda and Contra Costa County decreased significantly in January. This year’s flu vaccine is a good match for circulating flu strains, so get your flu shot if you haven’t gotten it yet.

To reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses during a time of substantial or high transmission risk, we recommend to:

  • Stay home when sick.
  • Gather outdoors instead of indoors when possible.
  • When indoors, open windows/doors and maximize ventilation, wear masks and test before gathering to prevent transmissions.

Click here to read our Wastewater FAQs and 💩 Feces Facts.

Variants:

  • XBB and BQ subvariants are widely circulating in the Bay Area: The Unidos en Salud variant data from their SF Mission District community testing site shows that there’s a growing proportion of the XBB and BQ variants with immune-evading properties. Western US regional variant data also shows that BQ subvariants are 53% and XBB subvariants are 40% of the viruses sequenced the week ending January 28, with XBB1.5 rapidly increasing in proportion.
    • This means a greater risk for reinfections.
    • Boosters, paxlovid, remdesivir and molnupiravir treatment are still effective against the newer variants.
    • Bebtelovimab treatment is no longer authorized due to XBB and BQ resistance.
    • Evusheld for COVID prevention is no longer authorized as of January 26, 2023 due to XBB and BQ resistance.
  • Boosters increase protection against new variants: Recent data show us how immunity against Omicron wanes after 4-6 months and boosters are crucial to protect us against these new variants. Vaccine boosters are effective in reducing the risk of long Covid, severe disease and death, especially for people over 50 and those at higher risk. 
  • Stay healthy during this winter by getting the updated booster, the flu shot, wearing N95/KN95/KF94 masks and using rapid tests before gathering and when you have symptoms.

Vaccines:

  • New data finds that the bivalent booster protects against symptomatic and severe disease from the newest variants, including XBB1.5.
    • Real-world data published in January show that the bivalent booster provided 48% additional protection against symptomatic XBB/1.5 infection compared to no bivalent booster.
    • CDC hospital data through December shows that people who got the bivalent booster had a 13x lower risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to those who didn’t get vaccinated and 2.4x lower risk of dying compared to vaccinated people who didn’t get the bivalent booster.
  • Updated bivalent boosters against the omicron variants are now available for children 6 months and over who’ve received their last dose or were last infected 2 or more months ago. The FDA authorized the updated bivalent boosters for children ages 6 months to 4 years on December 8, 2022 with these eligibility criteria:
    • Moderna booster for ages 6 months to 4 years: all children that had the primary series (2 shots) is eligible for the bivalent booster.
    • Pfizer boosters for ages 6 months to 4 years:
      • If your child completed primary series (3 shots), they are not eligible.
      • If your child did not complete the primary series (i.e., had 1 or 2 shots only), they are eligible for the bivalent booster.

  • Get a free updated bivalent booster at local pharmacies, your medical provider, MyTurn.ca.gov, Vaccines.gov, or county sites.
    • When should I get the booster? If it’s been…
      • <2-3 months since infection/vaccination: Wait and plan to get the booster 3-6 months out.
      • 3-6 months since infection/vaccination: Get the booster soon. If you have an event or trip, get it 2-4 weeks before to optimize protection.
      • 6+ months since infection/vaccination: Get the booster ASAP.

Prevention:

Test-and-treat:

  • Get your free COVID home tests while you can! Insurance companies will no longer be required to cover 8 COVID home tests per insured person per month when the federal pandemic emergency ends on May 11, 2023.
    • For everyone: if you haven’t yet requested the 4 free COVID home tests since December 19, you can still click here to request them or call 1-800-232-0233.
    • Contra Costa residents can get 4 additional free at-home COVID test kits per household by filling out this online form or by calling 833-829-2626.
    • For people with Medi-Cal, Medicare or private insurance: click here for instructions on how to get free tests through your insurance.
  • Are expired COVID home tests still useful? If you still get a clear “control” line, the test is likely to still be effective.
  • Free COVID clinical consults for CA clinicians: California health care providers can now call (866) 268-4322 (COVID-CA) to receive free and confidential consultation on COVID-19 testing and treatment from the UCSF National Clinician Consultation Center.
  • COVID test-and-treat: Paxlovid is still free and widely available! Community members at risk can get treatment at the same location and on the same day that you test positive and regardless of insurance or immigration status. Please encourage anyone who tests positive to contact their provider or a free test-and-treat center ASAP, as they may be able to get treatment.
  • Paxlovid, remdesivir and molnupiravir remain effective against the newer variants.
  • Paxlovid was also found to reduce the risk of long COVID by 26% in a large VA study
  • The monoclonal antibody COVID treatment bebtelovimab is not effective against BQ.1/BQ.1.1, and the FDA has withdrawn its authorization.
  • Viral rebound is common for both treated and untreated people with COVID-19. There is no evidence of resistance to Paxlovid. Treatment still helps reduce viral load and severity. Just make sure to re-isolate. 

Latest COVID resources

Click here for more East Bay COVID guidance and resources on how to protect ourselves and our communities.