Omicron sub-variant keeps Monterey County COVID-19 rates elevated but steady – Monterey Herald


SALINAS – Monterey County’s COVID-19 rates remain elevated but stable reflecting the characteristic of the dominant omicron BA.5 sub-variant which is more contagious and can evade immunity from past infection or vaccination.

At the Monterey County media briefing  Wednesday, Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno said COVID-19 rates are elevated but relatively stable, as “there’s no significant increase or decrease at this point.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, Monterey County’s COVID-19 seven-day average case rate on Tuesday was 27.3 cases per 100,000, down from 29.2 cases per 100,000 last week. The county’s test-positivity rate on Tuesday was 15%, up from 14.8% a week ago. There were 34 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County, down from 42 last week, and on Tuesday the CDPH reported 754 confirmed deaths in the county, up two from last week.

About a month ago on July 5, the CDPH reported Monterey County’s case rate was 27.9 cases per 100,000, its test-positivity rate was 13.3%, there were 35 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Monterey County, and there were 744 confirmed deaths.

Moreno said the data that is coming from the state shows a leveling off of the case rate and positivity rate though they remain high.

With each new variant, the peaks of the surges appear a little bit different due to the characteristics of the different variants, in this case the omicron variant and its sub-variants are keeping the rates elevated but steady, said Moreno.

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says omicron may cause a somewhat milder infection, its sub-variants are more contagious and are not completely harmless for everyone, particularly those who are unvaccinated who are still at risk for severe illness, hospitalization, or death.

The CDC reports that in the region that includes California, the COVID-19 omicron BA.5 sub-variant now makes up 89.1% of cases, the sub-variants BA.4 and BA.2.12.1 account for 7.1% and 2.3% respectively. Increases in infections are most likely due to a combination of two factors: increased transmissibility and the ability of the variant to evade immunity conferred by past infection or vaccination.

The time it takes for an infected person to develop symptoms after exposure is shorter for the omicron variant than for previous variants – from a full week down to as little as three days or less, according to the CDC.

Typical symptoms of the omicron variant include sore throat, hoarse voice, cough, fatigue, nasal congestion, runny nose, headache, and muscle aches.

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.

According to the CDPH, from July 4 to July 10, unvaccinated people were 6.3 times more likely to get COVID-19 than people who received their booster dose.

Of those individuals 5 years of age and older who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Monterey County, 88.4% have received at least one dose and 79.3% are fully vaccinated, says the CDC. The agency also reports that in Monterey County, 51.4% of eligible individuals 5 years of age and older are fully vaccinated and have a first booster dose.

With the number of reported probable and confirmed monkeypox cases in California reaching 1,135 on Tuesday, and Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency concerning the virus to help the state coordinate a government-wide response, seek more vaccines and lead outreach and education efforts on where people can get treatment and vaccination, more pressure will be put on health departments across the state to act on another health front.

Moreno said the Monterey County Health Department is accustomed to addressing more than one emergency or disaster at the same time and will continue to do its best to address not just the COVID-19 pandemic but any other emergencies or disasters that come up.

Go to to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment and visit to find a testing site.



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