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    COVID-19 BA.5 variant transmission high in San Mateo County, doubling infection rate since May

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    San Mateo County Health officials are warning people to take extra precautions after COVID-19 infections more than doubled since early May. They are reinforcing the need to wear masks, get vaccinated and stay up to date with their boosters to help reduce the risk of infection.

    “As the variants out-compete their predecessors, they are even more transmissible and able to evade the immune response of both vaccination and prior infection, prolonging this period of high community transmission,” Said Louise Rogers, chief of San Mateo County Health, in a July 12 statement. “County Health continues to reinforce the importance of remaining up to date with vaccinations, as they continue to offer significant protection against severe illness and death.”

    The county has been in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “high” tier since June 30, reflecting substantial virus transmission in the community and increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations for San Mateo County.

    The number of patients hospitalized in San Mateo County with COVID-19 was 42 as of yesterday. Rogers said authorities have seen the number of patients in San Mateo County hospitalized with COVID-19 increase and fluctuate between 30 and 50 since late May. In early May, those levels were closer to 20.

    “Fortunately, intensive care unit utilization remains relatively low, and our hospitals have been able to manage these hospitalization levels.

    “We continue to reinforce the importance of remaining up to date with the vaccinations you are eligible for, as the vaccines continue to offer significant protection against severe illness and death,” Rogers said.

    Everyone ages 6 months and older is now eligible for vaccination, which is available through healthcare providers and pharmacies. To date 4,836 residents under the age of 5 have received a first shot in the last few weeks. The county’s online public COVID-19 dashboards now incorporate this age group with updates.

    County authorities continue to recommend that people wear a high-quality mask in indoor settings and increase ventilation in buildings by opening doors and windows to help prevent infection.

    “We urge residents to test if symptomatic and to be in contact with one’s physician or, if positive, to access the treatments that are available,” Rogers said.

    Changing demographics are changing the vaccination data

    The county is changing its public vaccination dashboard by race or ethnicity and age after incorporating annually updated population data from the California Department of Finance. The data uses information from the 2020 Census and shows some significant shifts in the county’s population by race or ethnicity. The number of residents who are American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black/African American, Hispanic (any race), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or White is lower than what previous data estimates, which translates to a higher vaccination rate than previously reported, Rogers said.

    The number of residents who are Asian or multiracial is higher, translating to a lower vaccination rate than previously reported. The population under the age of 5 also changes the vaccination rates for each race/ethnicity group, she said. The improved data will continue to guide the county’s focus on under-vaccinated groups, she said.

    “Our key public message on vaccination is the importance of staying up to date. For those aged 50 and up, it is especially important to obtain a second booster to minimize the risk of severe impacts from COVID,” she said.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, CDC and the state of California have now approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for children ages 6 months and older. The FDA is recommending the addition of an omicron component to COVID booster vaccines, likely to be available in the fall, she said.

     


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