SALINAS – The Monterey County COVID-19 case rate jumped significantly in the past week, according to the California Department of Public Health, along with increases in test positivity and hospitalizations, and providing no sign of plateauing as was hoped for last week.
The state health agency reported on Tuesday that Monterey County’s COVID-19 seven-day average case rate was 29 cases per 100,000, up from 14.9 cases per 100,000 last week.
“The transmission is out there. We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” said Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno at the county’s media briefing on Wednesday. “We still recommend people get vaccinated, it’s the No. 1 strategy for trying to prevent illness and trying to decrease transmission via exposure to other people, so really, if you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated.”
Moreno had last week cited local and state data that appeared to show “that we may be seeing the beginning of a plateau in case rates here in Monterey County.”
But besides the increasing case rate this week, the California Department of Public Health also reported that the county’s test-positivity rate on Tuesday was 10.2%, up from 9.9% a week ago. It also reported 26 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County on Tuesday, up from 18 last week. According to the state agency, there have been 741 confirmed deaths in the county from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, up one from last week.
About a month ago on May 10, the California Department of Public Health reported the Monterey County case rate at 10.2 per 100,000, its test-positivity rate at 4.8%, and 11 people hospitalized from COVID-19, with 733 confirmed deaths from the disease at that time.
Moreno said the Monterey County Health Department is focused on trying to help the public understand what they can do to avoid exposure during this time of high transmission and what people can do moving forward which, he said, is to check frequently for updates from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as to whether new populations are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination or whether new guidance comes out in terms of who is eligible for boosters.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration’s outside advisory panel gave its approval of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer for the youngest in the U.S. population. The CDC’s own advisers will meet Saturday to decide on a formal recommendation that, if approved, would make vaccinating children under 5 possible as early as next week.
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, 87.7% have received at least one dose and 78.8% are fully vaccinated. The CDC reports that 52.5% 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 16 to May 22, unvaccinated people were 5.0 times more likely to get COVID-19 than people who received their booster dose.
“It’s very, very important that people understand we’re still in a pandemic and that there are steps they can do to try to decrease exposure to themselves and prevent exposing others,” said Moreno. “The most important one is getting vaccinated and making sure that people are up to date on their vaccines.”
The CDC lists Monterey County’s community level at medium after one week at high. 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.
Based on Monterey County’s current level, the CDC recommends staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get tested if you have symptoms. Wear a mask if you have symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Wear a mask on public transportation. Choose to wear a mask at any time as an additional precaution to protect yourself and others. If at high risk for severe illness, consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions.
Contributed by local news sources