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Weekly Roundup for July 22, 2022
Published: July 22, 2022
The COVID case rate has remained high in Sonoma County for the past two months. With the highly contagious BA.5 variant circulating in the United States, many people are now contracting the virus, including President Joe Biden. While we are not seeing the same kind of severe outcomes like hospitalizations and deaths that we experienced early in the pandemic, COVID continues to disrupt people’s lives.
As people travel and gather this summer, the best health guidance remains the same: wear a mask, especially in indoor public settings and around vulnerable individuals to prevent the spread of the virus and keep the community safe.
Visit the County of Sonoma’s COVID-19 Data and Statistics hub for more information:
This week’s digest provides helpful and important updates on the following:
- Vaccine distribution milestones
- Update on a new COVID vaccine from Novavax
- The evolution of COVID variants
- Vaccine and testing availability
- Other county news items
- Emergency preparedness tips & resources
Vaccine Distribution Milestones
- As of today, 1,119,223 doses have been administered to Sonoma County residents.
- Residents fully vaccinated: 388,481 - equal to 78 percent of the county’s total population.
- Residents partially vaccinated: 29,962 - equal to 6 percent of the county’s total population.
- Residents who have received boosters: 249,368 - equal to 65.3 percent of the county’s eligible population.
Current Sonoma County metrics:
- Our rate of new daily cases per 100,000 population is 30.2.
- Our case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 54.7 per 100,000 compared with 28 for vaccinated residents.
- Our overall testing positivity rate is 15 percent.
- Our equity metric testing positivity rate is 17.5 percent.
CDC Endorses Novavax Vaccine
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel on Tuesday recommended that a newly authorized vaccine from Novavax be used as an option for adults seeking immunization against the coronavirus.
The Novavax vaccine is expected to play a limited role in the immunization campaign, at least initially. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized it as a primary immunization for adults, but has not yet considered it for a booster shot.
Novavax is hoping its shot will appeal to Americans who have so far declined to be vaccinated. Somewhere between 26 and 37 million adults in the United States have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine, according to CDC data.
But in the countries where it has been available for months, Novavax’s shot has yet to have a significant effect on vaccination rates. Novavax said in its presentation to the panel on Tuesday that just over 1 million doses of its vaccine had been administered worldwide through the end of June, only a tiny fraction compared to the reach of competing shots.
The Biden administration said last week that it would buy 3.2 million doses of Novavax’s two-shot vaccine, enough to fully vaccinate 1.6 million people in the United States.
The vaccine was found to be highly protective against infection and severe disease from the coronavirus in clinical trials, but those were conducted before the emergence of the Omicron variant, which has sharply reduced the effectiveness of other authorized vaccines in preventing infections.
Novavax’s vaccine works differently from the three Covid vaccines previously authorized in the United States. It provokes an immune response with nanoparticles made up of proteins from the surface of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Similar protein-based vaccines have been used globally for decades.
Variant Evolution Vexes Scientists
The rapid evolution of COVID subvariants presents a challenge to health officials: They must make far-reaching policy decisions based on little biological certainty of which viral variants will be dominant this fall or winter.
The Food and Drug Administration said at the end of June that it would update vaccines for a booster campaign in the fall targeting highly contagious Omicron subvariants.
In eight weeks, the subvariant known as BA.5 has gone from a blip in U.S. case counts to the dominant version of the virus in the country, now making up more than 75% of new cases. Perhaps the most transmissible subvariant yet, it is pushing up positive tests, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions across the country.
There is no evidence that BA.5 causes more severe disease, but the latest metrics certainly bust the myth that the virus will become milder as it evolves.
Omicron and its offshoots have dominated for about six months now, and whatever incarnation of the virus comes next is more likely to be tied to the Omicron family than to earlier versions.
The Omicron family tree has been growing faster since Omicron BA.1 was first detected in late November 2021. New federal estimates on Tuesday showed that BA.5 made up about 78% of new cases in the United States as of last week.
Local Hospitalizations and Deaths
There were 49 COVID-related hospitalizations in the county as of Monday. Five of those COVID patients were in the ICU.
There have been a total of 500 COVID-related deaths reported here since the start of the pandemic.
Other U.S. Developments
Daily U.S. cases are averaging 124,683 up 24 percent in two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
COVID deaths are up 33 percent in the past two weeks to 436 a day. The United States has recorded 1,021,349 COVID-19 deaths.
Americans can request eight free rapid tests. Order at covidtests.gov. Each household is limited to four free tests. You can obtain a digital copy of your California vaccine record at my vaccine record.cdph.ca.gov.
Local Vaccine Availability
The County and its health partners are collaborating to make vaccines available when and where they are most needed. The county’s vaccination calendar is continually updated. Residents who need help making an appointment can call the hotline at 707-565-4667 in English and Spanish.
The county is averaging about 1,229 tests a day, which doesn’t include all the at-home rapid tests being used.
The county’s testing page includes a map to help find a site. Use the county’s pop-up testing calendar to make an appointment. Residents can call the county hotline at (707) 565-4667 (4701 in Spanish) for help making an appointment.
Self-administered rapid tests are available over the counter and online, including four free at-home tests from the federal government. The county urges anyone using an at-home antigen test to report the result to county health by using this online form.
Other County of Sonoma News
- Jenner by the Sea to get water system upgrade
- Sonoma County assessment roll increases to $108 billion for 2022-23
- Sonoma County Administrator Sheryl Bratton announces plans to retire in early 2023
Emergency Preparedness Tips and Resources
- As we continue into fire season, make sure you know your official evacuation zone. Click on the link for County of Sonoma here:
- Reminder to prevent equipment sparked fires due to lawn mowing, trailer chains, or driving on dry grass or brush, or with low tire pressure. For additional CAL FIRE information on equipment safety, please visit: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prevent-wildfire/equipment-use/.
- Hot weather is here and everyone is at risk for heat-related illness. Stay hydrated, limit your time outdoors, and check in on those who are susceptible to heat-related illness. Here are some tips to stay cool and preparing for a heatwave:
- Defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. Learn how to build defensible space around your home: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/defensible-space/
- The County of Sonoma strongly recommends subscribing to the following alert and warning systems:
- SoCoAlert – Upon signing up for SoCoAlert, select to receive alerts through landline calls, cell phone text messages or pre-recorded verbal messages and email. The system also works with telephone devices for the deaf.
- Nixle – Receive email and text messages from local fire and law enforcement agencies that include public safety messages as well as emergency information. Text your zip code to 888777 to opt-in or sign up online to receive email, text or voice messages with alerts and advisories.
- Stay informed, sign up for alerts at https://socoemergency.org/receive-alerts/.