The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors received a more robust than usual COVID-19 update during its first meeting of the year on Tuesday at the request of new board chair, District 4 supervisor Chuck Winn.
The presentation not only included the usual statistics from County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park, but also broader information on the quantities of different treatment options being offered by the county. Director of Public Health Greg Diederich and Dr. Dan Burch from San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services were present at the meeting, while Park gave her presentation telephonically.
“Because of some of the, I guess lack of a better term, threats, intimidation, comments (to Park), I've asked Dr. Park to address us telephonically to discuss her options,” said Winn. “But more importantly, one of the things that I think is important for us to pursue – especially now with all the omicron discussion in regards to the severity, certainly the rapid testing availability, and all those things – is I think we need to expand our discussion for the public's benefit, to see all the things that we're doing as a county in regards to acquiring the necessary tools to protect the health of our residents.”
As of Wednesday, San Joaquin County has reported 6,906 new COVID-19 cases in the past week and 38 new deaths. Of those cases, Tracy has reported 992 new COVID-19 cases and 1 new death. According to Park, no new deaths have been from the new omicron variant so far. About 156 patients in the county are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 13 ICU beds available throughout the county.
Park told the board that the county has seen about 118,000 total confirmed cases, including close to 6,000 over the past seven days.
“You can see that with the Omicron variant mixed in with some Delta still hanging around, we have far surpassed the peak of last winter surge and past the peak of the summer surge we just got through with the Delta variant, with some days resulting in more than 1,000 positive tests in the county,” Park said.
Park also said that over 25,000 PCR COVID-19 tests have been administered in the past week and that the county currently sits at a positivity rate of about 28%. Because of the increased need for testing, Park said that new testing sites were slated to open, but some of those openings have been delayed, with some of the main issues including lack of staffing due to workers calling out for being ill themselves.
Park also touched upon the different FDA-approved doctor-prescribed outpatient treatment options for COVID-19 patients.
“So there are three categories here. And what you're looking at are all the medications that are currently approved and that are being allocated or distributed in our county, through the state and through the federal government,” said Park.
The three categories are monoclonal antibodies, which include the drugs bamlanivimab/etesevimab, Regen-CoV and Sotrovimab; anti-viral pills molnupiravir and Paxlovid; and the pre-exposure prophylaxis drug Evusheld. Depending the severity and strain of the COVID-19 case, Burch said treatment options work differently. Patients should discuss the best treatment options with their healthcare providers.
Park did caution that supply was limited throughout the country, which was also echoed by Burch, who said that San Joaquin County only received about 580 courses of treatment of the anti-viral medications that were distributed to pharmacies throughout the county, including Kaiser pharmacies, CVS and Rite Aid. Park still urges families to do their best to avoid contracting the virus in the first place through vaccination, masking and social distancing.
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