UC San Diego Health

San Diego Doctor Calls for Personal Responsibility as COVID Cases Surge

San Diego County may return to a more-restrictive purple tier on Tuesday as case rates continues to climb

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As the number of COVID-19 cases surges across the country, a San Diego doctor says the number of cases are likely to increase since flu season and the holidays are quickly approaching.

“I’m seeing more cases in the hospital, and I expect to see more as winter progresses,” said Davey Smith, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at UC San Diego. "I worry a lot about the holidays, where people are desperate to get back to make those connections with friends and family. But that’s also when coronavirus makes connections with us."

The nation continues to log record high daily cases of the coronavirus, with at least 43 states reporting a rise in cases.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom reported California’s seven-day average is at 5,889 cases, with 7,712 cases reported Sunday – numbers that haven’t been that high since early August. And while the number of tests has also gone up, so has the positivity rate, which is at 3.7%.

“I’m in the hospital this afternoon," Smith said. "I will see patients this afternoon. And what I see is people come in with coronavirus, and sometimes they die."

Smith is repeating the call for people to turn to proven safety precautions like social distancing, meeting outside, hand washing and wearing masks.

“All those sorts of things really do work," Smith said. "When we get tired of those things is when the virus comes back with a vengeance."

In San Diego County, the number of positive cases is also rising, with the county health department reporting more than 500-plus cases recorded three of the last four days.

The numbers come as San Diego is poised to move to a more-restrictive public health order tier. On Tuesday, the governor’s office will announce whether the county will drop back down to the purple tier.

Some residents and businesses have voiced their intention to defy public health orders. Some point to the fact that San Diego area hospitals still have plenty of available beds. That attitude is a cause of concern for Smith.

“We’re now learning that people who get this infection -- even if they don’t have to go into the hospital -- can get so sick that it lasts for a long time, in terms of being tired, memory and concentration problems, blood clots, inflammation of the heart, and these things seem to persist for a long time,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah, who previously opted not to mandate mask usage because it was a divisive issue, declared a state of emergency Sunday night because of the rising number of cases and hospitalizations in that state.

“I am placing the entire state of Utah under a mask mandate until further notice,” Herbert posted on Twitter.

“A similar thing happened in Alabama, but it was like, how many people had to die before somebody, before our leaders decided that this was the right thing to do?” Smith said.

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