MENDOCINO Co.,2/5/22 — On Friday, Public Health Officer Dr. Coren shared cautiously optimistic news: Mendocino County appears to be past the peak of the latest and most virulent Covid-19 surge, in which new cases outpaced all previous surges by almost three times more than the highest daily rates recorded last September. “[The] Omicron surge seems to be nearing an end, though there will be more casualties and deaths through March,” Dr. Coren noted during his regular Covid-19 update.
Covid-19 hospitalization rates have plateaued locally and cases have dropped by 5.5 percent in the last week, Dr. Coren said. Officials anticipate another 30 percent decrease in Covid-19 cases next week. Deaths from the virus, however, are rising with three new deaths reported this week making a total of 117 deaths since the pandemic began, and 12 additional deaths since the beginning of the year — which is just over 10% of all deaths from Covid-19 in the county.
Mendocino County Public Health reported 118 additional Covid-19 cases since Wednesday. Public health officials are recommending residents continue to avoid large gatherings in order to reduce the current spread, postpone travel, and upgrade masks to surgical or N95 masks. New federal distribution programs are offering at-home Covid-19 tests at no cost and have started rolling out free N95 masks to be available at community health centers and pharmacies for anyone who needs them. Officials also encourage eligible residents to get vaccinated and boostered, especially children, whose hospitalization rates have more than tripled since November. No outbreaks have been reported in Mendocino County schools.
As of Feb. 4, nine Mendocino County residents are currently hospitalized, including a newborn with Covid-19 at UCSF, and seven people are in the ICU. Strains on hospital staffing continue to be a concern. One beacon of light is emerging outpatient treatments for Covid-19 that are being offered to those eligible, Coren noted.
Dr. Coren said there have been eight recent outbreaks in Mendocino County, with some requiring assistance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). One of the outbreaks CDPH is assisting with is in the county jail, where over 200 people at the jail including staff and incarcerated persons have tested positive for Covid-19. Dr. Coren said he spoke with the jail Friday morning and case numbers have declined 75 %, and there have been no hospitalizations connected to the outbreak. CDPH and Mendocino County Public Health continue to monitor the outbreak and have made recommendations including bringing in an industrial hygienist to make a report on the situation.
“We know this is a very difficult population and situation to work with,” Dr. Coren said, noting the challenges of moving inmates within the jail, and pointed to early release as a way to mitigate future outbreaks. Local public health officials also made recommendations to modify testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols after touring the jail.
California’s statewide mask mandate is set to expire on Feb. 15 and Governor Gavin Newsom has alluded to moving towards an “endemic plan” for the Covid-19 virus in California. In Mendocino County, Dr. Coren said while there’s a lot of talk about the pandemic becoming endemic, such as influenza now is, it does not mean the end of Covid-19. “There’s a lot of discussion about the endemic phase… but I don’t have a crystal ball,” said Dr. Coren. “I’m hopeful and we all want to see the end of this, and maybe in March we will see some light at the end of the tunnel. That’s a good thing, but it won’t be the end of the story.”
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.