San Francisco COVID surge coincides with Pride month, NBA Finals

COVID rates are on the rise in San Francisco, just as the city's social scene is recovering. Medical experts say even without an order from the city's Department of Public Health, it would be a wise decision for people to start wearing masks.

COVID rates are on the rise just as the NBA Finals and Pride festivities are ramping up. Medical experts say you can expect the number of cases to keep increasing, but that there is some reason for hope.

The recent activities are bringing more visitors and tourists to the city, just as medical experts say COVID rates continue to rise. On Friday, California Department of Public Health data showed the COVID test positivity rate had reached 8.3%, up from 7.9% just three days earlier.

"So, what people should know is that there are really high levels of virus circulating right now because the official number is only a fraction of the actual number of cases because of home testing," said UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

While Alameda County has re-instituted it's indoor mask mandate, health leaders in San Francisco have not yet taken that step. The Department of Public Health has issued a statement saying now is a prudent time to resume wearing masks in indoor settings, choose outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings whenever possible, and use rapid tests as needed to determine who is infected and should isolate.

Dr. Chin-Hong agrees that with people attending large gatherings should keep a mask handy, and wear it as needed. "I think the Chase Center is well ventilated, but of course you reduce your risk by wearing the mask," said Dr. Chin-Hong.

Residents in San Francisco say they're seeing COVID race through their friends and family. "My friend was just coming back from UC Santa Barbara and she got it, just yesterday and now she can't come back," said Francesca LoPresti.

SEE ALSO: Alameda County stands alone in requiring indoor mask mandate

Visitors say they're taking steps to stay safe. "With these big groups of people having a mask in hand and being ready to protect the people around you is really important," said Luna Johnston.

While cases are on the rise, hope is on the horizon, as San Francisco's rates are still increasing, they seem to have peaked in some locations on the East Coast. "The silver lining is on the East Coast anyway, Rhode Island, Massachusetts New York, New Jersey have already crested and are coming down," said Dr. Chin-Hong. "We may be we are in that same situation."

MORE: San Francisco's current COVID surge sees 500 new cases a day, so where are the restrictions?

Medical experts say vaccines and boosters are still a critical factor in checking the spread of COVID and reducing the severity of the cases once someone contracts it.