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Trying to define the problem away?
The CDC redefined "high" (etc) levels of community transmission to even higher levels by introducing "community levels" in March. What used to be high community transmission levels would most likely now be low community levels.

Ten months ago, CNN reported that the CDC definition was for "community transmission level"

Quote:Specifically, a "Low" transmission is considered no more than 10 cases per 100,000 people, or a test positivity rate of less than 5%. "Moderate" transmission is 10 to 50 cases per 100,000 people, or a positivity rate between 5% and 8%. "Substantial" transmission is 50 to 100 cases per 100,000, or a positivity rate between 8% and 10%, and "high" transmission is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10% or higher.

If a county has values in two different transmission levels, then the CDC uses the metric that is higher.

Now, the CDC changed its term to "community level".  It uses a combination of positive cases and hospital admissions.  (I guess that counties that have no hospitals count as having 0 hospital admissions and 0% staffed beds in use (vs the equally valid 100% in use).)'

If you've got more than 200 people per 100K who bothered to report a positive test during a week, then you're Medium if the number of new hospital admissions is less than 10 per 100K in a week, and the % of staffed beds in use for COVID patients over the 7-days is < 10%.
If you've got less than 200 people per 100K who bothered report a positive test during a week, then you're Low with that number of hospital admissions or staffed beds.   You have to get to 20 new COVID admissions per 100K in a week, or over 15% staffed beds over the 7-days.

Santa Clara County (CA) is reporting 827 daily new cases = 5789/week = 296 weekly cases/100K.   That seems a pretty high transmission level, even if hospitals haven't been fully hit yet.   The 7-day average % positive is at 6.6% which is the highest non-January rate in the county.   The current peak of cases is the highest peak other than January 2021 and January 2022 (easily beating the July 2021 and July 2020 peaks). (And, oh yea, 85% of everyone in the county (including 0-4 year olds) has been vaccinated.)

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID has averaged 116 for the past week.
The number of newly hospitalized patients with COVID over the past 7 days is 185.  That's 9.5 per 100K, just short of the 10 to put SCC in the high community level.

In my opinion, for an individual, it is the "community transmission levels" that matter, not the "community level." I don't want to get COVID. Hospitalizations of other people don't matter for that criteria.

I'm sure the political party in charge was happy to change a mostly yellow map (now no longer available) to a mostly green map by changing the definition.
The CDC is still showing numbers for SCC that are 20% lower than what I calculate.  But, they ticked over the 10.0 mark, so SCC and a number of California counties are High now.  Here's the SF Bay Area - a number of them just missed being High.

County      Inf  % New  %
            /100K Hosp  Beds
San Mateo    430   9.6  5.1
Santa Clara  421  10.1  4.6  High  I have 11.9 or 12.1 depending on which end day the CDC used for their data.
Santa Cruz   205   5.1  3.0
Alameda      354   9.3  4.5
San Fran     403   9.6  5.1
Contra Costa 348   9.3  4.5
Marin        400  11.8  6.1  High
Solano       272  11.5  5.8  High
Monterey     201  10.1  4.6  High
Alameda County is instituting a mask mandate for public indoor spaces starting tomorrow. Hospitalizations in the county have gone from essentially 0 to 100 in the last 6 weeks.

The thing is, masking in this county never really went away. In my neighborhood grocery store 90% still mask. At Home Depot, about 80% mask. There are a few places I've noticed less. It's just considered common courtesy to mask in public here. I'm not sure how well this is going to blunt the hospitalizations. Schools will NOT require masks, although only private and charter schools are still in session here. And restaurants are still functioning. I suspect a lot of transmission there. I still never go to restaurants. People visit each other more freely now. And most daycare centers are back in business. Plenty of places to spread the virus.
In another thread, I commented that the audience members of a particular music venue in Alameda County were well masked, essentially 100%. Someone recently told me that when he goes to D.C., all the East Coast people were unmasked, and all the West Coast people were masked.

In my experience in (northern) Santa Clara county, the masking has been less than what akiddoc described, but closer to that than what I hear of other parts of the country.

Yet, here we are with high infection rates in California. Are we just trying to bail out the ocean? We can make some temporary local progress, but it comes right back again.
sometime last week the NYT had piece on why masks work but mask mandates do not work.   IIRC, some key points:   
- masks are definitely shown to work . . . see next point though
- newer variants require high quality, tight fitting, somewhat uncomfortable masks to be effective.  
- mask mandates lead to people wearing cloth masks, ill-fitting masks, taking off to speak or eat, etc.  

Conclusion:  A person seeking protection should wear a good mask and be careful.   From a government perspective, at this point not clear mask mandates help at this point
This is not medically relevant except for the intersection of society and medicine.

I find that high quality, tight fitting masks are bad in low humidity and comfortable temperature environments. The discomfort rises drastically in hotter and more humid environment. When in these more humid and hot environments I get a runny nose to the point where liquid is dripping out of the nose ... (I will spare you from more detail).

As a society it seems as if COVID risk is becoming normalized. Sort of like driving a car. It's a risk we are willing to take.

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