The following is a press release issued by Lake County Public Health:
Statewide and locally, public health professionals are closely watching this disease and doing their best to preserve the health and wellbeing of our communities. At this time, it is important to keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and is still changing from week to week, as new variants develop and more information is learned.
Currently, Lake County Health Services is promoting awareness and access to potentially life-saving treatments for COVID-19 infections for residents who are at highest risk for severe outcomes. While vaccination continues to provide the best protection against COVID- 19, ensuring access to therapeutics to treat the virus can reduce the chance of severe illness, hospitalization, or death, when taken soon after the onset of symptoms.
Globally, we are seeing an increase in cases as recently discovered variants spread, including the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. Once again, we are seeing concerning information coming out of South Africa where they are experiencing a 173% increase in cases and 20% of all COVID-19 tests administered are coming back positive. Sadly, hospitalizations have increased by 63% there. However, the number of those being hospitalized with severe illness remains much lower compared to previous surges, as do death rates.
In the United States, we are witnessing a 49% increase in cases mostly from the BA.2.12.1 variant. The newer variants of Omicron (i.e., BA.4 and BA.5) are active in the U.S, but at lower levels. This will likely change in the next few weeks. The Northeastern region of the nation continues to have the highest numbers of new cases and Puerto Rico has shown a 271% increase in cases over the last 2 weeks. Of concern in Puerto Rico is the increase in hospitalizations, which are up 120%.
Here in California, we are experiencing 4,302 new cases and 14 deaths per day. 3.1% of all COVID-19 tests administered have tested positive. Case counts are slowly increasing, along with hospitalizations and death rates. However, this is not nearly as severe as previous surges such as the Delta variant.
In Lake County, COVID-19 cases are increasing slightly. Last week, 2 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded, bringing the total to 137. There is no significant increase in hospitalizations and there have been 10 new cases since last week. 2.7% of all COVID-19 tests administered are coming back positive.
As case rates rise nationally, oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 are also increasingly available in Lake County by prescription from a health care provider. Medications can reduce the chance of severe illness, hospitalization, or death when taken soon after symptom onset. An oral five-day course of Paxlovid, for example, has been shown to reduce hospitalization risk by 89% in higher-risk individuals when initiated within five days of symptom onset.
Lake County Health Services recommends that residents who are at higher risk for serious outcomes should have home test kits available and test promptly for any COVID-19 symptoms and if positive, reach out to their medical provider to discuss a possible prescription for oral antiviral medication. Medical providers across the county are equipped to review with patients whether treatment is indicated and prescribe medication in one of several Lake County pharmacies that carry COVID-19 treatments. Both testing and treatment are time-sensitive to be fully effective.
For additional information about COVID-19, please visit the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Assessing Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19 Illness: http://www.cdc.gov/…/invest…/assessing-risk-factors.html
County of Lake Health Services’ COVID-19 Resources: health.lakecountyca.gov
Erik McLaughlin, MD, MPH