MENDOCINO Co., 2/26/22 — On Friday, county Public Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren was eager to talk about the future as Covid-19 hospitalization rates have decreased locally. Over the past few weeks, cases have dropped by 30 percent weekly. Schools across the county have seen a dramatic drop to nearly zero new Covid cases, and revised recommendations regarding masking in schools by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are expected on Monday.
Despite the good news, Coren is keeping the universal mask mandate in place for now, but said he expects the mandate to end within the next few weeks. “Mendocino County still has universal indoor masking orders,” he said. “But the rates are falling, hospital beds are opening up, and we may be able to lift this order before March 15.”
It should be noted that the state still requires masking in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, public transit, and other congregate living situations, such as homeless shelters. Unvaccinated people are still required to wear a mask in most indoor environments.
The reason for this, Coren says, is in part due to hospitalization and ICU admittances, which compared to pre-Delta and Omicron levels, remain high, and the number of hospital beds are “severely restricted.” The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance on easing local mask mandates nationwide, but did note that new Covid-related hospital admissions should be considered to assess community risk for the virus.
On Friday, Mendocino County Public Health reported 28 additional Covid-19 cases. Deaths from the virus, however, are rising with 3 new deaths reported this week making a total of 123 Covid-caused deaths since the pandemic began. As of Feb. 24, 10 Mendocino County residents and 5 people from outside the county are hospitalized, 1 person is in the ICU, and 4 people on med-surg. Strains on hospital staffing continue to be a concern, but more surgeries are being scheduled compared to recent months, Coren said, noting hospitalization rates were expected to decline in the coming weeks and months.
There have been some new recommendations regarding vaccines: For those who have contracted the virus after being vaccinated, the CDC and CDPH have acknowledged the importance of natural immunity or hybrid-immunity and advise deferring a booster shot for three months post-infection. For those aged 12-39 years old, especially males, the CDC now recommends an 8-week interval between the first and second dose of mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, to lower risk of myocarditis. For those interested in emerging outpatient treatments for Covid-19, Coren emphasized the importance of speaking with a healthcare provider and starting treatment within five days of infection.
Statewide, Governor Newsom is rolling back most Covid-19-related executive actions. “As we move the state’s recovery forward, we’ll continue to focus on scaling back provisions while maintaining essential testing, vaccination and health care system supports that ensure California has the needed tools and flexibility to strategically adapt our response for what lies ahead.” Newsom said in a press release. Mask guidelines were relaxed earlier this month, and last week Governor Newsom introduced the next phase of pandemic response, the SMARTER Plan for living with the Covid-19 virus in California.
It seems Mendocino County will soon enter a new phase of the pandemic. Coren hopes the future won’t be reliant on mandates, but on science and community trust. “We can clearly see a great fall from the Omicron surge,” Coren said. “We’ve learned a lot, and much more is coming. One thing we have learned is humility in the face of this pandemic and respect for what it takes to cope with it.”
You can see the full media conference video here:
COVID TESTING & VACCINE INFO: For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and masking, contact the Mendocino County Public Health COVID19 Call Center at (707) 472-2759 or visit their website here. You can read our ongoing coverage of the pandemic here, and find the current county COVID-19 data here.