"I'm concerned about whether we have enough people vaccinated to weather a winter storm," says UCSF's Dr. Rutherford.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite vaccinations this year, with Thanksgiving just over a week away, there is still a level of uncertainty about the pandemic. What could happen in the weeks and months to come?
"It's not horrible, not great. It's somewhere in between," UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford told ABC7 News about the state of COVID-19 cases in California. "We're kind of a balance point right now."
Dr. Rutherford explained the situation in California is not as dire as it was a year ago, when there was a rapid increase in cases in mid-November ahead of the holidays.
But there are some similar trends -- Cases are rising, just not as fast.
"I'm concerned about whether we have enough people vaccinated to weather a winter storm," Dr. Rutherford said. "If you look at the 2020 data, by the current dates we're sort of right on track for what happened last year."
A graphic from ABC7 News' data team (in the video posted at top of article) shows daily cases in the Bay Area going back to the beginning of the pandemic. Last year around this time, there was an average of about 924 cases a day. By comparison, last week the Bay Area had an average of 753 cases a day.
Statewide, this time last year, the state reported more than 10,000 cases a day. Currently, that number is just over 5,000.
To keep the state from sliding too far in the wrong direction, Dr. Rutherford said more people need to get their booster shots and more young people need to get vaccinated.
He said in England, adolescents ages 12-15 have been slow to vaccinate, and are now leading to a surge in cases. It's a lesson he believes Californians should take note of as we head into the holidays.
"This is the most important month because what happens now is going to determine what's going to happen in December and January," he said.
Rutherford said while the Bay Area, overall, is doing quite well in terms of its COVID cases, he is most concerned about some of the rural parts of the state and parts of Southern California -- specifically Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- where there are large areas with low vaccination rates.