During her presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park revealed that COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations continue to surge and will soon bypass the rates of last summer prior to the introduction of vaccines.

In San Joaquin County, the most recent stats show 34.8 positive cases per 100,000 per day, with a positivity rate of 8.5%. This is up from the 25.6 per 100,000 per day that Park reported at the previous Board meeting meeting on Aug. 11. About 79 new cases have been reported in Tracy this week.

“Most recently we're getting about 350, almost 400 cases a day on some days of positive reports. And of those maybe 80 to 100 are in children zero-to-17,” said Park.

Park said in an updated press release sent out that evening that a total of 263 people have been hospitalized in the county, with 64 people in intensive care and 50 on ventilators. Current ICU capacity is at nearly 120%. A majority of the hospitalized cases are of those who are unvaccinated, according to Park.

About 52% of eligible county residents are considered fully vaccinated with a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and about 13% are partially vaccinated. In Tracy, about 76% of residents are fully vaccinated, with 11.8% partially vaccinated.

Due to the surge in cases, Park and the Board agreed that an increase in the number of testing sites available was in need as well as more testing options for residents, who some spoke up during public comment cited long lines and extended wait times at current sites available. The county will be working closely with other agencies to offer both the “gold-standard” polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which Park said is the most reliable method of testing, and Rapid Antigen Testing that will provide a more immediate result but may be less accurate.

“We need to make sure we are doing everything possible to get people tested and reduce the risk of a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus,” said Supervisor Chair Tom Patti. “This means getting the PCR and rapid antigen tests out in the community as soon as possible through expanded testing locations, additional testing equipment, temporary or expanded laboratory facilities, and additional lab staff in order to expedite tests and prevent people from spreading the virus.”

Park also discussed concerns with an “immunity” test being offered to the community through independent vendors and health care providers which has mixed results.

“I’m hoping the public understands that COVID antibody tests might make folks think they have immunity, but in reality, we don’t know exactly what these test results really mean in relation to the level of immunity an individual may or may not have,” said Park. “Even with a positive antibody test result, people should still get the vaccine as well as wear masks, socially distance, and wash hands in order to protect themselves and others. We have to keep up with all of those things because this test is not going to give you enough information to know if you are truly immune from the virus.”

After Park’s update, the Board of Supervisors took action to approve $33.7 million for the Family COVID Assistance Grant and the Small Business Assistance Grant programs that are provided through the county with American Rescue Plan Act funding for residents and businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding provides:

• $1.7 million to fully fund Round 1 of the FCAG program and to cover costs incurred by the County Human Services Agency for the administration of the program.

• $12 million to fund a second round of the FCAG program with a target launch date of Sept. 1, 2021.

• $20 million to fund a fourth round of the SBG program also with a launch date of Sept. 1, 2021.

Residents and businesses can check their eligibility and apply at www.sjgov.org/covid19/grants.

• Contact Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 209-835-3030.

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