tv ABC7 News Getting Answers ABC December 1, 2021 3:00pm-3:30pm PST
>> moving forward, finding solutions, this is abc 7 news. anchor: you're watching getting answers on abc seven, hulu live, and where you scream. we ask your questions everyday at 3:00 to get answers for you in real time. marin county asks residents to report home covid test results. the public health officer will talk about whether it might bring back its mask mandate in the wake of the winter increase and the omicron variant. california's public health department confirmed this morning the first known case of omicron in the state and the u.s., a traveler who came from south africa on november 22. no symptoms. on thanksgiving day, november 20
fifth, tested on the 28th, got the positive result the 29th, and it was confirmed by ucsf genomic sequencing as omicron yesterday, november 30. san francisco's director of public health addressed this during midday live. >> i want to emphasize this is not a surprise. for those of you following this, we knew omicron was going to be here. we thought it was already here. we just had not detected it yet. this is cause for concern. it is certainly not cause for panic. anchor: joining us to talk about this discovery and what it means and how it factors into the president's announcement tomorrow regarding travel protocol is the director of the center for policy outcomes and prevention at sanford and professor of pediatrics and health policy. thank you for joining us. this is what we know to the timeline we laid out.
the person has mild symptoms. self-quarantining right now. they're fully vaccinated but not boosted, which is normal if you consider that they are between 18 and 49. " have been contacted and tested 90 get of. i have to ask you do you think, if there is this one case, there are probably more from this cluster? dr. wang: i certainly fact that all the contacts have been tracked and tested in the person affected has been isolated, that is all a good thing. the best we could do, once the case arrived in the u.s., was to do contact tracing and testing, and it tested positive, than isolation and quarantine. i think they did everything right here. in terms of whether there is more in the cluster, i think it would be interesting to look into the flag, who was sitting
next to this person in the vicinity, in terms of the seating of whether masks were mandated on the airplane. it is an enclosed space. i anchor: tried to get this information from california officials. they don't have it but i think the cdc might in terms of who was on the flight and the flight before that because maybe it was not nonstop. it probably was not. what about those folks on the other flights? do you think they should be tested and isolated until testing negative? dr. wang: certain c look at stopping the virus from coming in, we could certainly do a 14-day travel history to see if anybody has come from that region in the last 14 days. that way, i think all of the flights keep people's phone number, email, flight number, and the seedings.
they should be able to track individuals in that flight, either originating from south africa or during a transfer from south africa. anchor: some countries do this very meticulously. do you know if the u.s., the cdc, is that who would do that? dr. wang: certainly, the cdc has talked about that. government when they find an index case. there might be efforts underway there. anchor: let's hope so, and hopefully we will hear more about where those went. san francisco officials and making this announcement that plotted the individual forgetting tested when they had mild systems, that is great but do you think the testing for returning travelers should be mandated? dr. wang: when we think about
border control, when we think about the three ways of doing it, the first way is pre-travel and that is probably the best way. before somebody is traveling to the united states, we asked them to get a test pre-boarding. it used to be three days, starting november. foreigners coming into the u.s. would need to be fully vaccinated and get a negative test within three days. now, the soon-to-be policy is going to one day of negative test. countries outside the some of them may not be prepared for testing, because even in the united states, you try to get a seven-day test and it is difficult to get the results. people are afraid they will miss their flight.
anchor: it does take one or two days oftentimes with pcr. that is the requirement. tomorrow, president biden will announce new restrictions for people flying from other countries to the u.s., like you talked about. they wanted to shorten the testing window to 24 hours before the flight. i mean, it sounds like a lot of countries will not be able to accommodate that. they will not be able to get it in time? dr. wang: i think that will be a challenge, just to get a test done in one day. you could do a rapid test. that is a 15 minute rapid test. it is not as accurate. that would be bad within a day. anchor: deck second part of what we expect him to announce tomorrow is a recommended test three to five days after the flight, after the person has returned to the u.s. is that a good idea? dr. wang: certainly, i think it is a good idea. it is how you approach it.
people coming from outside united states, from regions that has the new variant, the ommicron, you know, they still, they could have gotten infected. they say, you know, two days before they travel and they could test negative the day of the travel. they could become infectious to others two or three days or five days after. that is the latency period of the virus. i think it is a good idea for people to get tested after they have had international travel. they can get it easily in the united states at lots of testing centers for free. anchor: this person did that three days after coming back but that is not enforceable, is it? in the u.s., we do not have the tools to make anyone test if they don't want to three to five days after they get back, right? dr. wang: we live in a democracy
and a civil society and part of that is the social contract that people need to feel that not only do they need to protect themselves but protect other people around them. we could encourage that in a civil society. anchor: all right. the third part of what president biden has said he will announce tomorrow, is that unvaccinated travelers should quarantine upon arrival. i know taiwan, which you have worked with, has done mandatory quarantining, for anyone who comes in, right? it is an island and less porous than the u.s. could that be accomplished here? dr. wang: it will be more difficult with 300 ports of entry in the united states. most quarantine stations are related to military facilities. for unvaccinated travelers, instead of trying to quarantine them, i think we will use a
testing strategy. if they test negative before they travel and test negative two or three days after travel, the posttest probability of having the virus is very low. assuming the test are good. anchor: cdc director dr. rochelle wilensky announced expanding covert surveillance for u.s. airports. sfo is a testing service. what does it add? what does it do? dr. wang: again, when somebody arrives in the u.s., they say they had a negative preboarding test, and then they get an arrival test. then, the pre-test probability -- upon arrival, it is the preboarding test. then, after the arrival test, the posttest probability is negative. the test is negative. it will give it a rope -- all over probability the person is infected. that adds confidence the person
does not have the virus if they tested negative twice before boarding the flight and after arrival. one caveat is you have to be able to do that relatively quickly, because you have to be able to do one test per minute. we have done it in schools. it is possible just to get a sample. within a minute, that is possible. anchor: before you go, i have one last question because you are a pediatrician so you can answer this. which age group are you most concerned about right now? some say it is the vaccinated, but if it is the unvaccinated, does that mean kids age four and under? on the one hand, they are better protected naturally we hear but on the other hand, and south africa, they have had kids cases recently. what do you think? dr. wang: i think the population most at risk are the
unvaccinated. that includes adults that are unvaccinated and also some kids that are unvaccinated. some kids have chronic disease, such as asthma and obesity and so forth. anyone wh --who was unvaccinated i think are at risk. anchor: dr. jason wang, thank you for your expertise and time. i appreciate it. dr. wang: thank you very much. anchor: we continue the conversation about omicron. a local county is counting at home tests in the bay area.
california department of public health get the data. that doesn't happen if you use a home test. that is changing in marin county. joining us to talk about this and other covid manners is dr. matt willis. thank you for your time today. dr. willis: good to be with you. anchor: we have to start with the omicron variant. first one detected in the u.s. happens to be in california, a case in salmon cisco, someone who flew from south africa. i want to ask you, does marin county have a possible or confirmed case you know of? dr. willis: we do not. we had a return traveler yesterday from south africa but that person turned out not to be infected by omicron variant. we are continuing to monitor. we have surveillance in place. we are not surprised to find the first case was detected in the bay area, because we know we
have a population that tends to travel more and we have excellent surveillance systems, good rob -- laboratory relationships, and we were able to sequence more samples. anchor: this person who returned, the one with the positive case, in the contact tracing that is being done, did they have any contacts that are residing or working in marin county that you know of? dr. willis: not that we know of. we are just learning about this. i am sure that the contact tracing that is happening right now is detail oriented, and they are getting every bit of the history they can as to where the person may have been and who they may have exposed. we have not been notified that any one in the county was exposed. anchor: is marin county taking extra precautions or making or advising any changes? our viewer jasmine wants to know if lockdown would be possible again. tell us what you guys are thinking right now. dr. willis: lockdown is not --
right now, is not on the horizon. the concept of a lockdown from march of last year when we started seeing cases. the policy changes now would be nuanced and specific. right now, we are still with leading to learn more about the omicron variant. we are also looking at what is happening with our experience with delta. we remember our biggest threat right now still is the delta variant. the possibility of a winter surge. we only have one case of omicron in the united states. it happens to be in the bay area. we are confident in our surveillance systems. we are confident in our ability to monitor transmission as it occurs and the community. we are watching that closely over the coming days to determine whether to make changes in policies. right now, we will sit tight. anchor: you are the only bay area county who had gotten rid of the mask mandate for vaccinated or unvaccinated.
stores, malls, gyms, movie theaters, offices. santa cruz had lifted theirs but brought it back. are you considering talking about, thinking about, possibly bringing the mandate back? dr. willis: at this point, everything is on the table. again, we are looking at our surveillance systems, monitoring cases as they occur. our case rates are lower now than they were when we lifted the mandate. we lifted the mask mandate because we had lifted the criteria we had established earlier. three weeks on the transmission tear, 80% of our population vaccinated, then low hospitalization. we achieve there is criteria, lifted the mandate, and it does not make sense when you issue a policy that is restrictive to have an exit strategy. we met that criteria by lifting it and we have not seen increased transmission since then. we are confident we could stick with where we are.
we do not need to reimpose the mask mandate. if case rates surge, especially hospitalizations, that is an important point. we will be looking at evidence of severe illness, as a potential trigger for changes to more restrictive policies, more than case rates themselves, per se. anchor: ic. from what i understand, hospitalizations are low and even cases have been studied, 20 cases or less a day. nowhere near what it was during the delta surge. that is good to hear. what about vaccination rates? what is the uptake with five to 11-year-olds? dr. willis: our greatest and the reason we have been successful at containing case rates, hospitalizations, and debts, has been our high vaccination rates. are five to 11-year-olds came online a couple of months ago
and we vaccinated 60% of our five to 11-year-olds, with at least one dose. today we are starting second doses. those that came in early november are starting our second doses. that has been great progress for us. over 90% of our population eligible has been fully vaccinated. we are hoping people recognize our success with presenting -- presenting transmission, keeping rates down, is directly due to that -- the choices people had made to get vaccinated. anchor: those numbers, you are the envy of public health officers. peter, our viewer, wants to know , are symptoms of omicron more severe than the previous variance? do we know that or have evidence? dr. willis: we do not yet know what the range of symptoms is yet for omicron. that is an important, unanswered question. we have hints from from from frm
southern africa taking care of patients with omicron. the report we are hearing is reassuring that it may be a mired -- mild constellation of symptoms. we are definitely not hearing it is causing more severe disease and driving people to hospitalization and mortality. we hear anecdotally it may be less severe so that would be excellent news for us and something we are eager to learn more about because that would be one of the most important determinants of our experience as a community. anchor: please don't go away. we appreciate you sticking around for another segment to answer more questions and talk about how to incorporate at-home test
actively promoting the use of home tests. we know that one of our strategies to get out of a pandemic is to make sure people are able to get diagnosed with the illness as soon as it comes on. we know that people who are vaccinated have milder symptoms and we know just don't want people to mistake symptoms for covid-19. we are promoting home-based testing but at the same time, our surveillance systems rely on laboratory testing. the pcr tests people have been familiar with over the past year or the way the public health departments get the results through our understanding of the virus. we see a blind spot where people do home-based testing and may not share the results with public health. the way we address that is to request our residents use of form we have put on get vaccinatedmarin.org. if you do test at home, you can report your results to us. that allows us to see a case
that may have occurred so we can track more accurately, but more importantly, so we can reach out to people and offer support they need if they are positive. anchor: i wonder if those are reliable. there could be more user air with those, right? dr. willis: that is right. it is important to follow the instructions with home-based test. we have been using them in our schools. we have distributed them to almost every county family that has schoolchildren. we have a video there is along with that and tailored teaching so that people understand how to use the test. they are not complicated to use. you do need to learn the steps. it is for steps and anyone can do it but it needs to be done correctly to make sure the results are accurate. the package insert is good at walking through the process. it is important to pay attention. anchor: if somebody tells you they have a positive case for my home test,, you send them elsewhere for follow-up test to confirm? dr. willis: not necessarily.
the tests are accurate. what we do in those cases is treat a positive as a positive. they can choose to seek confirming testing but we would advise them to isolate based on positive results. then, it allows us to keep track of that as a potential case, especially if associated with a constellation that allows us to detect outbreaks. we see multiple individuals from a given setting reporting positive test that tells us the virus is from that base. anchor: this sounds like a great idea to open up a blind spot. gregory wants to know if it is safe to be indoors with elderly parents if everyone is vaccinated and boosted for christmas, even with omicron. dr. willis: that is the best thing -- best way to protect yourself. if you are vaccinated and boosted, it is safe to be indoors. i think it is safer these days.
it is hard to know what is totally safe, but i think that is the safest we will get. the alternative is not being together. i think that tilts toward greater harm. you have social isolation. you have mental health, an important issue for us over the course of the pandemic. being able to gather together in person for the holidays has benefit in terms of our well-being and we want to support that. fully vaccinated and boosted indoors together, we support that. anchor: you would be comfortable flying your grandmother out to visit, as long as she is vaccinated and boosted, right? dr. willis: travel is a different question. the first question was whether they can be indoors. we are looking closely to see what the travel guidance is. travel carries its own risk because of your trip to the airport. if you are traveling from a distance and especially coming
from a place where there is more virus activity, from southern africa it is prohibitive right now. we do not allow people into the country for nonresidents from southern africa. if you are traveling, and n95 mask is a good precaution to take in making sure you cover your face throughout that interval of travel. anchor: would you travel if you were not boosted, yes or no? dr. willis: i would not myself, no. a booster, we are recognizing with waning immunity, -- anchor: we have to keep at it yes or no beca
we caught you up on everything we know about the omicron case confirmed in san francisco, the first in the country. much more tonight, breaking news. the first case of the new omicron variant detected here in the u.s. halth officials confirming a patient in california returning from south africa three days before thanksgiving. they say the person was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms and is now recovering. the person did not have the booster. tonight here, the soaring demand across the country now for boosters. and what dr. anthony fauci said just today about antibodies in your system and why it matters after two shots and the booster. also developing as we come on the air tonight, the deadly school shooting. a fourth student now dying. and what we've now learned tonight about the alleged shooter, a student, at the school hours before this with his parents. tonight, the major news from the supreme court on roe