CDC: Monterey County COVID-19 community level ranked high

SALINAS – In the past three weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved Monterey County’s COVID-19 community level from low, to medium and now to high, based on hospital beds being used by patients with the illness, new hospital admissions of those with the virus, and the total number of new cases.

“We look at trends and over the last several weeks the trend has been an increase in transmission, which indicates an increase in case rates,” said Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno at the county media briefing on Wednesday. “Looking at our local data and some data across the state, it looks that we may be seeing the beginning of a plateau in case rates here in Monterey County and other parts of the state. Hopefully that will continue because that will be a good indication that transmission is starting to level off and I hope that is what’s happening at this time.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, Monterey County’s COVID-19 seven-day average case rate on Tuesday was 14.9 cases per 100,000, down from 19.5 cases per 100,000 last week. The county’s test-positivity rate on Tuesday was 9.9%, up from 8.0% a week ago. The state reported 18 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County on Tuesday, down one from last week. According to the state agency, there have been 740 confirmed deaths in the county from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. Last week that number was 737.

A month ago on May 3, the state reported the Monterey County case rate at 9.8 per 100,000, its test-positivity rate at 3.3%, eight people hospitalized from COVID-19, and 732 confirmed deaths from the disease.

“COVID-19 transmission is still occurring here in Monterey County, we’re still in a pandemic so it’s still very important for people to keep up to date on their vaccinations against COVID-19,” said Moreno.

The CDC lists Monterey County’s community level as high after one week at medium and the previous few weeks at 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. The calculations used by the CDC are from a week to nearly two weeks prior.

The CDC currently considers Monterey County's COVID-19 community level as high. (James Herrera graphic/Monterey Herald, CDC map)
The CDC currently considers Monterey County’s COVID-19 community level as high. (James Herrera graphic/Monterey Herald, CDC map)

Based on Monterey County’s current level, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public and on public transportation, staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, getting tested if symptoms arise, and if an individual is at high risk for severe illness, consider taking additional precautions.

Moreno stressed the importance of getting COVID-19 boosters when eligible. The county health department still recommends using face coverings in indoor public settings and crowded situations, staying home if sick, getting tested for COVID-19, and washing hands frequently to not only help prevent the spread of COVID-19 but other viral illnesses as well.

Moreno said that it appears Monterey County is starting to see a plateauing of the COVID-19 case rate. He said that what has been observed in the past is that when case rates level off, it is followed by a decrease in transmission of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of those individuals 5 years of age and older who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Monterey County, 87.6% have received at least one dose and 78.7% are fully vaccinated. The CDC reports that 52.3% of the fully vaccinated population in Monterey County 12 years of age and older have received a first booster dose.

According to the state, from May 9 to May 15, unvaccinated people were 4.7 times more likely to get COVID-19 than people who received their booster dose.

Go to mcvaccinate.com to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment and visit montereycountyvaccines.com/testing-sites to find a testing site.

Contributed by local news sources

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