Monterey County health officer: Return to school could cause increase in COVID-19 cases

A week after children on the Monterey Peninsula started returning to the classroom for the new school year, a handful of COVID-19 cases have been reported in local schools.

“I think parents and school personnel should be aware that once children resume school, there could be a risk of increased transmission,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County health officer, during Wednesday’s media briefing. “It’s really important that schools continue to take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the school setting and that parents get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 if they haven’t already been vaccinated.”

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, which started school Aug. 3, reported 17 COVID-19 cases among its schools in its weekly update Friday. Pacific Grove Unified School District’s dashboard, updated Tuesday, shows six cases so far this school year, which started last Thursday. Carmel Unified School District started school on Monday and the district has yet to update its COVID-19 dashboard.

Moreno said the No. 1 thing parents can do to keep their children safe from COVID-19 is to get them vaccinated.

“If any parents have questions or concerns about the vaccines that are available for their children, I recommend that they check with their child’s health care provider,” he said.

According to data from Monterey County’s COVID-19 dashboard, 79.7% of Monterey County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among those ages 0-4, 4.4% have received at least one shot since it was approved in late June. In children ages 5-11, 44.4% have received at least one COVID-19 shot. And among those age 12-17, 79.2% have received at least one shot.

Data from the California Department of Public Health shows Monterey County’s COVID-19 seven-day average case rate per 100,000 on Tuesday at 27.9 cases per 100,000, up slightly from 27.3 last week. The county’s test-positivity rate on Tuesday was 15.6%, up from 15% a week ago. There were 28 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County, down from 34 last week. According to the Monterey County Health Department, 775 residents in the county have died from COVID-19.

On July 9, the state reported Monterey County’s seven-day average case rate was 30.9 cases per 100,000, its test-positivity rate was 18.2% and there were 42 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County.

Monterey County’s community level remains at high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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 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.

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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