Uptick in COVID cases coincides with presence of Delta variant

By Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, July 13, 2021

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On July 9, Sonoma County reported five more COVID-19 related deaths.

One death was reported on July 7 and four were reported on July 9, the most reported in any single day since February, signaling an uptick in cases and hospitalizations mostly among the unvaccinated and younger populations.

“The pandemic is not over in Sonoma County, or elsewhere,” Sonoma County District 3 Supervisor Chris Coursey said during a community COVID briefing on July 9.

The newly-reported deaths bring the COVID death toll in Sonoma County to 323.

The five persons who died were all males over the age of 45 and died in hospital between June 30 and July 6. Four of the five individuals were unvaccinated.

The fifth person who died was fully vaccinated but was over the age of 90 and had underlying health conditions, according to Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase.

“What’s important to emphasize is that nearly all of our recent COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths have involved unvaccinated individuals,” Mase said during the briefing.

Both the county’s adjusted COVID case rate per 100,000 residents and the overall testing positivitiy rate are double than what was reported a month ago.

Cases are primarily occurring among younger age groups, 20 to 29-year-olds and 30 to 39-year-olds.

For the fully vaccinated population, there is one new case per day per 100,000 and among the unvaccinated population, there are 11 new cases per 100,000 per day.

According to county epidemiologist Kate Pack, to date, there have been 337 breakthrough COVID infections identified among fully vaccinated individuals. This total represents less than 1% (0.12%) of 290,798 residents fully vaccinated as of July 6, 2021.

Of the current variants, the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than other strains and Pack says 68 of the Delta variants have been identified in the Sonoma County community.

“It can move very quickly, particularly among the unvaccinated population,” Pack said. “Sonoma County’s rise in case rate that we began to see coincided when we first detected Delta in our community.”

There are 44 individuals in the hospital with COVID including 13 in the intensive care unit (ICU), the highest number of ICU patients since February and at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the number of COVID patients has doubled in the last two week.

The increase in hospitalizations are now being observed among 50 to 64 year-olds and 18 to 49-year-olds and 92% of those hospitalized and 100% of ICU patients are unvaccinated

“The numbers are trending in the wrong direction. It will take enough people getting vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. In one sense, our current situation underscores how effective vaccines have proven to be in protecting people from the worst outcomes of the virus,” Mase said.

Mase urged the remaining population of people in Sonoma County, about 25%, who are not yet vaccinated, to go and get vaccinated. She said vaccines are widely available and same-day appointments and walk-ins are available at county vaccination sites.

“The vaccine is safe and effective and free and widely available and is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and the community,” Mase said. “ And, evidence shows those who have been vaccinated have very little to worry about. Life has pretty much returned to normal for them.”

However, folks who are unvaccinated should continue to wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings.

Dr. Chad Krilich, chief medical officer for Sonoma County Providence, echoed Mase’s message about getting vaccinated.

“My message is very simple. Please get vaccinated. When you look at what is happening in our county, the reality is that we are experiencing about 50% of what we had seen when we were at our worst and that’s based on our inpatient census,” Krilich said. “Patients are younger and the patients that are in our hospital are unvaccinated. The good news is that we are half as bad off as we were in January in terms of the volumes. This is preventable, so please get vaccinated.”

This article was produced by SoCoNews. See more news at soconews.org