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

This page includes a guide to East Bay COVID info and resources, which are updated with practice-changing developments. Please click here to share feedback.

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This month’s East Bay COVID updates

  • Virus levels have risen in the East Bay: East Bay wastewater surveillance shows substantial increases in virus levels in April and early May. The EBMUD wastewater facility that serves both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties (sewershed #137) has a 17-fold increase in virus levels from April 1 to May 12, to a level similar to late January. Cases and hospitalizations are expected to rise through mid-to-end of May. This is likely related to increased transmission of the highly infectious BA.2 sub-variants. The BA.2.12.1 sub-variant has rapidly increased in California from 15% on April 23 to 44-61% on May 9. So far 6 cases of the immune-evading BA.4/5 variants were detected in California as of May 9.
  • All US households can now order 3 sets of 8 free rapid home COVID antigen tests. If you’ve ordered 1 or 2 sets for your household, you can order more. Click here to order now!
  • Kids ages 5-11 are now eligible for third doses, a.k.a. boosters. The FDA authorized the third dose for all kids ages 5-11 on May 17, and the CDC approved this recommendation on May 19. Berkeley Unified has opened slots starting May 21. Check for appointments and walk-ups at local pharmacies, your medical provider, MyTurn.ca.gov, or county sites.
  • Masks still strongly recommended on public transit and public indoor settings: BART reinstated a mask mandate. Statewide, California Department of Public Health “strongly recommends” that people continue to wear masks on public transit even though it removed the mask requirement. The CDC issued a recommendation to wear well-fitted masks on public transit on May 3, given increased transmission rates and travel.
  • Contra Costa County has launched the “Path to Zero” initiative to increase access to strategies for preventing COVID-related death, including same-day test-and-treat. Contra Costa County residents can call 1-877-661-6230 if they test positive to reach a nurse and get a free same-day telehealth consult and prescription if medically appropriate.
  • COVID-19 test-and-treat is available in the East Bay! This means that community members at risk can get treatment at the same location and on the same day that you test positive (this includes all people living with HIV) and regardless of insurance and immigration status. Check the COVID-19 test-to-treat directory and learn more on our COVID treatment webpage. Please encourage anyone who tests positive to contact their provider ASAP, as they may be able to get treatment. There’s plenty of medication supply now. 
  • Vaccines remain highly effective against severe disease and death from the Omicron variant, according to the latest CDC vaccine efficacy data . Data from March and April hospitalizations show that being up to date with vaccines provides 17x protection against death and 5x protection against hospitalization.
  • Second boosters were authorized for people ages 50+, adults who’ve gotten 2 doses of the J&J vaccine, and people with immunocompromise ages 12+ at least 4 months after their first booster dose. Click here to find a free vaccine in the East Bay.
  • COVID pre-exposure prophylaxis with Evusheld for people in Alameda County with immunocompromising conditions (including PLWH with CD4<200) is available at Total Infusion with provider referral.
  • California expanded Medi-Cal to all eligible adults ages 50 and over regardless of immigration status starting May 1, 2022. Click here for the Medi-Cal application process.

New COVID studies

  • A large study of 78,252 people with long COVID from the FAIR Health group using data from privately insured patients in the US with the U09.9 ICD-10 code for long COVID found that:
    • 76% of long COVID patients were not hospitalized,
    • 35% were between the ages of 36-50,
    • 11% were ages 22 or younger,
    • 31% of patients did not have preexisting health conditions, and
    • most were still experiencing symptoms 4.5+ months after infection.
    • The most common co-occurring diagnoses included problems breathing, cough, malaise and fatigue.
    • Since people with public insurance or who were uninsured had disproportionately high rates of COVID infection, this study almost certainly understates the scope of burden of long COVID.
  • COVID survivors had more respiratory symptoms, mood disorders and impaired function 2 years later: A 2-year longitudinal study on long COVID including 1,192 people who were among the first group in China to have COVID infection found that while most people recovered function over time, at 2 years:
    • 14% still had post-COVID respiratory symptoms,
    • 12% still had post-COVID anxiety or depression,
    • 11% were unable to return to their previous work.
  • Gun deaths reached the highest number ever recorded in the United States in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, as reported in a CDC study. Gun-related homicides surged by 35%, with a disproportionate toll on younger Black men and Black women.
  • Nearly a quarter of people in the US may have been infected during the Omicron surge: A new CDC study found that 58% of people in the US, including 75% children, had been infected by February 2022. About 75% of children ages 0-17 in a large US sample were antibody positive by February 2022, a rapid increase during the Omicron surge from 45% in December 2021. Overall seroprevalence for all ages increased from 34% to 58% during that time, with lower rates (33%) among older adults ages 65+.
  • COVID death disparities from 2020 to 2021: A new CDC study found that disparities in COVID death rates by race/ethnicity decreased from 2020 to 2021 for most racial/ethnic groups except for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people, who had the highest death rate in 2021, followed by Native American people, Latinx people, Black/African American people, White people, Asian people, and multiracial people with the lowest death rate in the US. Another CDC study found that there were more COVID deaths in 2021 than in 2020, and COVID remains the third leading cause of death in the US. 
  • Two new studies on COVID among people living with HIV found that about 60% of PLWH with COVID remain asymptomatic, including during the Omicron surge. Viral loads among asymptomatic carriers were high, so we cannot rely on symptom screening alone. Universal masking, vaccinations and ventilation regardless of symptoms remain crucial strategies.

East Bay COVID guidance: how to protect our communities and get tests, vaccines, masks, treatment

How do we protect ourselves and our communities in the absence of mask and vaccination requirements?

  1. Get vaccinated and boosted. Click here for where to get free vaccines.
  2. Wear high-quality masks (N95, KN95, KF94s) in indoor public spaces and transit. Click here to find free N95 masks at a pharmacy near you.
  3. Have a supply of rapid home COVID tests ready to use. Get them while supply is plentiful. Click here to order 8 free rapid tests (order up to 3 sets per household).
  4. Make a plan for treatment in case you get infected.
  5. Ventilate and distance: Open windows/doors and stay in well-ventilated areas. Avoid the busiest times on public transport and other indoor spaces.
  6. Have back-up plans for gatherings and travel if cases increase.
  7. Check the amount of virus in your community using the early detection wastewater surveillance dashboards: US | CA counties. You can also see community risk levels at Covid.gov.

The MyCOVIDRisk.app COVID-19 risk calculator from Brown University can help you determine the risk of getting COVID-19 infection in different settings and gives you options to lower your risk.

More East Bay guidance and resources:

Latest local requirements

Latest national COVID updates

Deeper dives into pandemic epidemiology, policies and science

  • Epidemiology: Your Local Epidemiologist online newsletter with Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, epidemiologist, for her translation of public health science for a broader community.
  • Policy and practices: In the Bubble podcast with Andy Slavitt, for discussions on pandemic policy and developments with national scientists and policy leaders.
  • Medical science: Dr. Eric Topol’s twitter feed with up-to-the-minute reports on new medical and scientific studies on COVID vaccines and treatments. 

Archives: Our weekly updates from the first two years of the pandemic (March 2020 to March 2022) have switched to periodic, practice-changing updates to the pages linked above. You can find PDFs of our previous updates here

COVID risk reduction graphics

Click to download: graphic in English | graphic in Spanish | PDF in English and Spanish

Table summarizing the top 7 COVID harm reduction strategies.
Click to see a summary of COVID prevention research

Latest COVID Resources

View All COVID Resources