Local and statewide health experts are currently keeping their eyes on the small spike in positive COVID-19 cases since California reopened last month.
At Tuesday’s San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meeting, Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park laid the current numbers out for the county. Currently San Joaquin County is at a positive case rate of 4.7 per 100,000 residents per day with a 2.6% positivity rate. At the same time in June this year, the county was at a positive case rate of 3.3 per 100,000 residents per day with a 1.7% test positivity rate.
She assured the Board of Supervisors that, though case rates have been going up, immunity with vaccines has not shown signs of waning. Park said some factors that affect the rising case rates were expected, though different strains of the virus are still considered unpredictable variables.
“So this is not completely alarming as we were expecting some of these numbers to increase as the state reopened and as we've seen in the past that as things reopen. People are having gatherings and there's more risk, more opportunities for transmission,” said Park. “So none of this is too surprising but some of it might be also attributed, not just to reopening, but to the new and ‘scary’ Delta variant.”
At the moment, 25 COVID-19 Delta variant cases have been recorded in San Joaquin County, though Park said that number is only a sampling since not everyone who gets a positive COVID-19 test sends their results in to be further studied. The Delta variant, which is theorized to be originated from India is now considered more transmissible than the Alpha variant from the United Kingdom.
“Statewide the Delta variant is now the dominant strain, accounting for 43% of cases sampled. Next in line would be the Alpha variant at 30% of cases sample, but that Alpha variant is on its way down,” said Park. “We know that it's very transmissible. The Alpha variant was about 50% more transmissible than the than the original wild type Coronavirus, and the Delta variant is considered to be, perhaps 60% more transmissible than the Alpha.
The number of patients hospitalized from COVID-19 has also gone up in the county. On July 1, 25 COVID-related hospitalizations were recorded. As of Tuesday that number has jumped up to 43.
Park also noted that the county as a whole has seen a decrease in residents getting their COVID-19 vaccination and said her team was focusing on the outreach for that in order to maintain herd immunity. As of this week, San Joaquin County is at a 49% vaccination rate for all county residents, not yet meeting the national and state goal of 70%.
“So this is key is that we might see that some vaccinated people can get COVID, especially with this very transmissible Delta variant. However, those people don't tend to need hospitalization and are not the ones who are dying,” said Park. “Incredibly so at the national level, what we're hearing from the CDC is that 99% of people requiring hospitalization and dying, are those who are unvaccinated.”
Park said the county and other organizations are still offering COVID-19 vaccines on a nearly daily basis and encourages residents who have not yet received their first or second shot to make appointments at myturn.ca.gov.
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