Bay Area counties reported fewer COVID cases this week than the week before, marking the welcome end of what some have called the “silent wave” of new infections.

“People are behaving like there’s not a wave,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. “But there is.”

The nine-county Bay Area reported 20,470 new cases this week, according to data from the California Department of Public Health, down 33% from the 30,646 cases reported last week.

The most recent data update signals that the surge is finally dropping, after plateauing at high rates for over a month. That’s good news for those who are out celebrating the Warriors’ win, who are being exposed to slightly less COVID now than they would have been two weeks ago.

This surge has been notable for the Bay Area because for the first time the counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay were reporting more COVID cases per 100,000 residents than the rest of the state. Previous surges were much more concentrated in Southern California, but this new era of vaccinations and vanishing social distancing practices has set the stage for the Bay Area to lead the state in newly detected infection rates.

California’s surge also seems to be dropping, but from a lower rate, and more gradually. This week the Golden State added 93,911 new COVID cases, down 20% from the 116,752 cases reported last week.

Swartzberg said recent trends are causing a lot of people to ask him if COVID is evolving to be more benign, but he’s not sure. Despite the recent further decoupling of cases from hospitalizations and deaths, “the bottom line is I don’t really think we know whats going to happen,” he said.

“It is not clear theres any law of nature that the next variants will cause less serious disease” Swartzberg cautions.