SALINAS – With case rates increasing to more than 10 per 100,000 in Monterey County, Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno said this is a reminder that we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic but there are things people can do to protect themselves and others around them.
On Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health put Monterey County’s case rate at 10.2, up from 9.8 last week. A month ago the CDPH reported the case rate as 3.6 per 100,000.
At Wednesday’s Monterey County media briefing, Moreno said “We’re still in a pandemic, and it’s really important that people remember that there are strategies that have proven to be effective at protecting people from getting sick with COVID-19 and preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death.”
But as the case rate has risen, hospitalizations remain relatively steady.
Moreno said that what has been seen with the omicron variant and its sub-lineages is that it is more infectious than previous variants but not necessarily more virulent, meaning that it may not cause more serious illness.
“People will get milder to moderate symptoms and fewer people, particularly now that many people have been vaccinated, will come down with serious illness,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of those individuals 5 years of age and older who are eligible for vaccinations in Monterey County, 87.5% have received at least one dose and 78.1% are fully vaccinated. Of those individuals in the county 12 years of age and older who are eligible, 51% have received the first booster.
Comparatively speaking, on a national level the CDC reports that 82.7% of those 5 and older have at least one dose, 70.5% are fully vaccinated, and of those 12 years and older who are eligible, 47.8% have received a booster dose.
“For people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, if they’re eligible to receive the second booster, I think that it’s important to do that now because we do see a slight increase in case rates,” said Moreno. “So if you’re eligible for a second booster, now would be a good time to do it. For those who are choosing to wait in getting the second booster, we encourage people not to wait too long.”
From April 11 to April 17, 2022, unvaccinated people were 5.4 times more likely to get COVID-19 than people who received their booster dose, according to the CDPH.
The CDC currently considers Monterey County’s community level as low. A COVID-19 community level, ranked as low, medium or high, is based on hospital beds being used by patients with COVID-19, new hospital admissions among people with COVID-19, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in the area.
Based on Monterey County’s current level, the CDC recommends staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, getting tested if symptoms have arisen, and wearing a mask if symptomatic, testing positive, or having been exposed to someone with COVID-19. The agency continues to recommend wearing a mask on public transportation and reminds people they may choose to wear a mask at any time as an additional precaution to protect themselves and others.
Though masks are no longer required indoors in California with a few exceptions, they are still strongly recommended. The CDPH requires masks in health care settings, emergency shelters, jails and prisons, and homeless shelters, and strongly recommends masks on public transit, in stations, terminals and airports, in indoor public settings, and in childcare settings.
“We are still in a pandemic and we still highly recommend that people receive their initial vaccines and boosters when they are eligible and, when appropriate, use face coverings,” said Moreno.
He added that if an individual comes down with CODVI-19, is eligible and offered a treatment, that individual should receive the treatment because it has been shown to reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death.
According to the California Department of Public Health, the county’s test-positivity rate on Tuesday was 4.8%, up from 3.3% a week ago. The CDPH reported 11 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County as of Tuesday, up from 8 last week. There have been 733 total confirmed deaths in the county from the virus since the start of the pandemic, up one from last week.
One month ago, the CDPH reported the county’s case rate as 3.6 per 100,000, its test-positivity rate was 1.5%, and there were 12 hospitalizations.
Go to mcvaccinate.com to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment and visit montereycountyvaccines.com/testing-sites to find a testing site.