tv ABC7 News Getting Answers ABC March 2, 2021 3:00pm-3:30pm PST
building a better bay area, for a safe and secure future. this is abc . gram called getting answers. we're asking experts your question every day at 3:00 to get answers for you in real-time. today we'll talk to the executive director of the bay area council economic institute about the bay area exodus amid the pandemic. we will zero in on the zip codes seeing the most migration. where are bay area people leaving to? first, the big headline today, three more bay area counties moving into the red tier for reopening. san francisco, santa clara and napa counties have been given the go ahead. now, red means substantial transmission risk and
improvement over the purple tier. and that does allow for more reopenings. so restaurants, gyms, places of worsh worship, movie theaters and more can all be opened indoors at limited capacity. so joining us now to talk about this is dr. bob, the chair of ucsf's department of medicine. good to see you again. >> hi, kristin. how are you? >> i'm good. great. let's talk about what the red tier means. what does that mean in terms of new cases and test positivity and how we should feel overall? >> you feel pretty good. the cases have come down markedly from where they were six weeks ago. all over the bay area, actually all over the country, they are coming down nicely. the test positivity rate is now in the range of 2% or 3%, way, way down from where it was. so we're in much better shape than we were. it is still a relatively high
number of cases. i noticed today the governor of texas removed the mask mandate. let us not do that. still need to wear masks and follow all the rules. but we're definitely going the right direction. >> i definitely dive into texas and what we should be doing and not doing in a little bit. but what do you think is driving down our covid transmission numbers? >> just the same way when it goes up, it is a combination of things. when it goes down, it is also a combination of things. people have changed their behavior for the better. more people are getting vaccinated and we're getting to the point where the vaccines are making a meaningful difference in the curve of cases and particularly the curve of hospitalizations and deaths because we know these vaccines are 100% effective in preventing people from getting sick and tieing. we vaccinating a lot of our older populations, nursing home populations, so that makes a difference. sadly, a number of people have also had covid so they're
immune. they need to be vaccinated on top of it to make sure the immunity lasts. but things are coming down, and it is nice to see particularly with this concern about variants. we do have this variant in california that does appear to be somewhat more contagious, but it seems like we're staying ahead of that. and hopefully we can stay ahead of that for the next couple months. >> yeah, definitely. i do wonder how big of a factor the vaccine is. i know our rate of vaccination is picking up. i remember how we were talking about the younger people -- by younger i mean 20 to 40ish are driving the transmissions. i would think the vast majority of that group hasn't gotten the vaccine yet. how much of our lower number is due to the vaccinations. >> yeah. certainly we're nowhere here herd immunity where a virus can't find a host that is susceptible. but it is the combination now of a fair number of people of having had covid and recovered and at least for all intents and purposes, we know they're immune
at least for now, probably not forever. and the vaccine on top of it. that combination is helping. it is not so high that we're anywhere near out of the woods, but it is high enough that it's exerting some downward pressure on the case counts and on the infection rates. and as long as that number keeps going up, it will exert more downward pressure on the case rate, and that's really where we need to go. >> all right. with going into red, that means some things can open indoors to a limited capacity of course. we're talking about restaurants, movie theaters, museums and aquariums at 5%. retail indoor malls at 50% capacity. gyms can reopen at 10% capacity indoors. i'm going to ask you if you think all of those are fairly safe. are there some you would avoid even though they are allowed? >> i think they're all reasonable. i mean, there is a fair amount of virus around. if you ask me would i eat indoors if i wasn't vaccinated -- i am vaccinated
because i'm a health care worker. i would eat outdoors and feel good about that. but we're at a fairly high level of cases. so people should still be on the careful side. the reason i focus on the restaurants is that's the one activity out of everything you just named where you can't really wear a mask. you can wear a mask on the way in and way out, but nobody has figured out a way to eat yet without taking the mask off. with the restaurants i would be super careful eating in indoors. if you are going with people in your bubble, it's reasonably safe, but that's the one i would be careful about. the rest as long as your masking and distancing, i think they're quite safe. >> okay. that's good to know. the cdc's director warned the states to not open up too quickly just because we're seeing, you know, kind of a dip. and yet today, you brought this up, texas and also mississippi
removed all restrictions. does that make you very worried? >> i think it's foolish. i think that the cases and the amount of virus in the community is still way too high for that. the number of people that have been vaccinated is too low for that, and i think it's premature. and it's particularly premature because we may be a month, six weeks away from being in a really, really good place. we're in this race with the variants that people now understand, but the vaccines now are rolling out really fast. two million doses a day. we have a new vaccine in the mix. and, so, this just feels like if you have made it a year without getting infected, just feels like why get infected now if you could possibly make it another six weeks, eight weeks when it looks like vaccines will be available to everybody by may. and, so, it just feels premature and i think it's foolish. >> let me just ask you something. texas, you know, the governor in rescinding the restrictions said, hey, businesses can still
require masks. and i trust you acid sevens to make the right choices. we're not going to decide for you. here is a philosophical question, doctor, but can people actually be trusted to make the right choice, not from an individual personal standpoint but from a public health societal standpoint, can we actually be trusted? >> that's too loaded a question to tackle straight on. >> okay. i tried. >> i will just say that this is not purely an individual issue. if you talk about someone deciding to hang glide, i say they can decide to do that. and it's their risk and they own it completely themselves. but if they decide to not wear a mask, they are putting other people at risk. they may say, well, i can see this is an older person. they're high risk. how do you know the person you're standing next to doesn't have cancer or isn't on chemotherapy. you have no idea. no, i don't think people should be trusted to make individual
choices on something that could potentially kill someone and we're talking about other people. i think there is a role for government, and this is one of them. >> all right. you talked about vaccines becoming more available. i did hear today that president biden says 78 million doses of vaccines administered so far in this country. so how does that pace compare to our peer nations, if we have peer nations? >> yeah. it's hard to figure out what a peer nation would be. but we're a little bit behind the u.k. but on a level with many other countries. i mean, the a plus student in this is israel, which has now vaccinated almost every older person in the country and more than half of the people, half of the adults in the country. but israel has 9 million people, you know, about the size of los angeles. so one -- there is no states in israel. it is one federal government, and that's it. and israel has been useful because we can get to see what happens. what has happened is they have
seen cases plummet among older people. they have seen more freedom of movement. it gives us a snapshot of where things are likely to go. but i think we're doing okay. i mean, we had a really crumby month of january. the initial roll-out was chaotic. part of that was the trump administration got the vaccine developed beautifully but didn't plan for the roll-out. i think since the new administration took over, it's gone well. i think california had a bumpy start but is doing quite well now. we're getting there. now that we have a third vaccine in the mix, the supply will get better. the president announced today that we will have vaccine for everybody by july, and that number -- that month he's moved up to may, which seems right to me. >> i saw that. does that mean doses will be available or does that mean they will have gone into arms? like when, you know, will people have all gotten their shots who want them? >> well, i think the big issue is may is going to be there will be doses available and you will see signs on the window and
walgreens and cvs and at my hospital and others that vaccines are available. my question is will people take it? i think what he's saying is there will be enough doses produced and out in the states. will they be in the arm by may 30th? hard to know. but we're not seeing a huge lag anymore. we were in the beginning. january was a disaster. but recently we have not seen a huge lag between doses getting out to the state of california or to the bay area and getting into people's arms maybe a week or so. so, you know, whether it's doses out there or doses in people's arms, i think we're going to toggle from the current situation which is people desperate to get vaccinated and not enough doses to in may enough doses and making sure that everyone who is eligible gets one, which i hope they do because the vaccines are effective and safe. >> we want to talk about school reopenings after we take a short break.
all right. we are back. we were answering your questions on facebook live during the break. here is another one. how can this work if all bay area counties are not in the same color range, not all in the same color tier. as you heard today san francisco, santa clara, napa moved into red but there are still some in purple. how does this work when they're not all on the same page? >> i'm not quite sure what the viewers means. i mean, there are rules within each county about what businesses can be open and what their density is. i don't know if he or she is implying that, you know, it is a little funky because the vaccine doesn't care about the county border and, so, there certainly is a risk that if one county d
the virus starts spreading in that county then it might spread to another county, but they're all pretty close and you will see more that if one county gets to red a little faster, the others are probably not that far behind. >> any news on people 16 and under? when will we know? to have herd immunity, don't we need kids vaccinated, too? >> it will be helpful. the calculations vary on that whether you get 80% or 90% of adults, whether that's enough people that you actually don't need the kids. but i think most people believe that we probably need at least some of the kids to be vaccinated. there is ongoing testing and trials of kids age 5 through 16. one of the manufacturers is starting to test down to age 2. the fda has announced they're not going to require as extensive an amount of testing as they required for the initial approval. they will just require that we know that the vaccines are safe
and lead to a strong immune response. so i think we'll probably know by the summer that these vaccines are good to go in lower age groups and be able to roll them out over that period of time. and i think that will help us get to herd immunity faster than if we're doing it elsewhere. >> dawn has a question. if the johnson & johnson vaccine is more traditional, does that mean it contains live virus? >> it does not. it contains a virus that has no risk of causing an infection, and it's one that's been used for other -- basically used to piggyback the protein into your body. that's been used for other vaccines, so it's perfectly safe and used before, and that's not a concern that i have. >> all right. look, i want to ask you about this as well, the new variant in brazil. i read a study today that shows it's infected many people who have already recovered from covid. that seems very worrisome. i mean, we knew it would be more -- potentially more
transmissible and potent but could it render the vaccines ineffective? can it beat the antibodies or dodge them? >> probably not ineffective. so now it's the south african and the brazilian variants are the ones where we worry about some level of immune escape from the experience in south africa, we know that for the most part the vaccines still worked. they worked a little bit less well. in brazil, this variant, at least from the early reports, appears to escape immunity enough so that some people who had infection are capable of getting re-infected. what that means in terms of whether that will nullify the vaccine, the best guess is that it won't. it may make the vaccine a little less effective. but the vaccines lead to levels to immunity that are significantly higher than the immunity you get from having your own infection, particularly if you have mild infection. i'm still reasonably confident that the vaccine will work.
maybe they won't be 95% effective. but we'll have to see. right now it has been reported in the united states. very few cases. it doesn't seem to be spreading like wild fire the way the u.k. variant is and what we see in california. but we got to watch it very carefully. if it does spread here and becomes a dominant strain, then there is some risk that the vaccines will become less effective. >> okay. we have a couple minutes. i want to talk about school reopenings. as you know, here in the bay area, most public schools are not fully reopen. i'm sure you subscribe to "the new york times" as i do. i'm look at their article showing which counties actually can reopen fully in person based on the numbers, the new cases per week and also test positivity. ironically in many of the bay area city districts they're saying we could actually be fully in person, but that is actually the opposite of our reality. and they have most of the nation, including texas and, you know, many places where they should not be open at all, should be all remote.
yet, ironically they're fully open. so what is going on? >> well, i think the bay area has taken a pretty restrictive view about schools. i think we'll look back on this, you know, as history books are written and say that we probably made some mistakes on schools. we were more restrictive than we needed to be. i don't think because of anybody, you know, malfeasance. i think we didn't understand the nature of transmission in the schools. i think it's been pretty well shown that schools can open safely even with moderate amounts of virus in the community. if you are thoughtful about the schools, push on ventilation, make sure there is masking. i think we have been quite cautious and i think we will learn that the costs of that on the kids in particular was quite high. so i hope we can get them open. i think the rates that we're seeing of test positivity and cases in the bay area are such that we should be able to get them open. >> all right.
i want to get one last viewer question in. since we're talking about schools somebody said, hey, you're worried about eating indoors, but then how come kids and schools are okay. and i'm wondering about that equivalency that some people draw with regard to those. what is your take? >> yeah. i mean, the fact about schools is you -- you know, i do not need to go indoors and eat dinner with someone. it's nice. it's a joy, and i understand the economics of the restaurants. kids need to be in school, and kids are really being harmed by not being in school. so i think it's not equivalent. kids can stay in class with their masks on. we also know that particularly for the younger kids they transmit the virus less than older people and older kids become a little bit more problematic from the standpoint of the virus they act a little more like adults. but i think for a lot of this, it's weighing risks and
benefits. the kids tend not to get very sick and to me it's an essential activity. getting kids back in school i think is extraordinarily important. i think we have learned that more and more as the year as gone on. >> it's a risk/benefit analysis. thank you so much for answering even some of those questions for which truly we don't have a good collective answer. so i appreciate it. take care. >> my pleasure. all right. we'll take a short break. when we come back, we will look into the recent bay area exodus. with the pandemic, people leaving, where are the
and you just find that more in the public school system. >> all right. that's a san francisco mother talking about her family's decision to uproot from the bay area and move to denver so their son could go to school in person. their story is one of many. but new data also points to people moving to other parts of california where rules have been less restrictive. joining us now to talk about this is jeff bellasario. jeff, nice to have you. >> thanks for having me. >> who knew that the usps can tell us so much about what's happening from a demographic standpoint. so we looked at zip codes and for people who moved out of the bay area, where are they going? >> well, i think we're seeing a couple trends play out. first and foremost, there is a movement from the bay area to other parts of this state. we think remote work has opened
up this possibility to maybe live a bit further away from where your job site is or if you're not going to work at all in the future to working remotely 100% of the time, that opens you up to live anywhere. i think secondly, there are larger movements of people out of the state altogether to places like texas and colorado and idaho and washington. not massive movements by any stretch of the imaginization, but the numbers are growing in 2020. and this post office data is one of the best metrics we have found to track what happened last year to our population. >> now, this map you guys did, we'll keep that up there because it is so interesting. it looks like texas is the number one spot that bay area folks move to, followed closely by arizona, washington state, oregon. i understand washington and oregon, you know, that's always been popular for people choosing to go for maybe a little cheaper housing but still similar feel to the bay area. but why texas?
that seems to different in so many ways from us. >> well, a lot of this is cost of living driven. so i think there is a better bang for your buck that you can get in texas, particularly even in its large metro areas are much more affordable than our region. then look at jobs, too, as part of this. we look at particularly austin, texas really has grown its tech and innovation economy by leaps and bounds. not just during the pandemic, but other the last few years. so there is this potential movement of people working for a bay area company that maybe can go to austin and find a satellite office of that same company or there is just this growing, you know -- there is a growing narrative around austin as the next great american tech hub, so i think that's part of the movement there as well. >> interesting. so this is not an exodus, right? most of the moves are to another bay area zip code. >> i do think the concern is that this becomes an exodus
going forward if this trend accelerates. you saw some of the data we have provided from 2018, our net migration was around 100,000. according to this data, in 2020, we have more than doubled that. if we double again in 2021, you are now talking about large chunks of the population moving out of the state altogether. and i do think what is happening and the census bureau is predicting that california loses population for the first time in 2020 basically ever since they started counting in 1900s. you do begin about what a lower no growth state looks like and what that means for state finances, what that means for job opportunity, what that means for economic opportunity in our state going forward. >> uh-huh. right. i mean, you're balancing some people would say, hey, it's good if rent comes down and housing prices but it is not so good when the city loses its tax base and when there is less revenue. look, overall, if weea,t are god things to draw people in?
>> well, i do think housing affordability is key, and we're not going to solve that overnight. but a more concerted effort toward long-term housing production to map some of the underproduction we've had over the last few decades. there is a business attraction and retention piece to this to make sure companies are not moving away and looking elsewhere and that we still capture much of the innovation we produce here. but there is a people attraction part of this, right? i think we will need to rethink our state's economic competitiveness strategies and how we think about both our population and our jobs going forward. i think this is a good time to do it. there is an inflection point in the economy. >> all right. well, let's continue this conversation o by harnessing california's abundant wind and solar energy, we have the power to take on climate change. use less from 4 to 9 pm to keep california golden.
>> thanks so much for joining us today on this interactive show tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. president biden's major announcement just a short time ago. the new timeline for vaccinations for every adult here in the u.s. now two months earlier than first promised. president biden now saying enough vaccine for every adult by the end of may. the president invoking the defense production act. merck working with johnson & johnson to mass produce that one-shot vaccine. some of j&j's first shots going into arms already today. also what the president just revealed about vaccinating teachers and school workers. tonight, thousands of appointments already added in new york city alone for vaccinations. what you need to know. and with at least ten states easing restrictions and texas governor greg abbott lifting that state's mask mande