MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno said in an Aug. 18 press briefing that the county continues to have higher case rates of Covid-19 from the Delta variant, and that data is backing up the effectiveness of vaccines.
“In Monterey County, we still have an elevated case rate, it’s 12.2 per 100,000, which is up slightly from 10.4 the prior week,” Moreno said. “Our positivity is 5.3%, which is up a little bit from 4.7% last week.”
The positivity rate means for every 100 people tested for Covid-19, about five are positive.
The statewide case rate is 26.6 per 100,000, and the statewide positivity rate is 6.1%.
Moreno explained that hospitalization rates have been fluctuating up and down, but were at 33 hospitalized in the county on Aug. 18 with six in ICU care. As of Monday, those rates increased to 48 hospitalizations with eight ICU patients.
Moreno confirmed that most of the hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals.
“Studies have shown that the messenger RNA vaccine is about 94% effective against the Alpha variant and about 88% effective at preventing disease from the Delta variant,” he said. “The messenger RNA vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing hospitalization from the Alpha variant and 96% effective at preventing hospitalization from the Delta variant.”
The Delta variant has also taken over in the county.
Moreno said July results from the full month of June’s specimen sequencing showed the Delta variant accounted for 96% of the infections.
“Thus far in August, we’re only finding Delta variant in the sequencing,” Moreno said. “One hundred percent of the specimens sequenced at the Delta variant. Not only is it the predominant strain, it appears to be possibly the only strain we’re seeing at this point among the specimens sequenced.”
Because the Delta variant is so infectious, Moreno recommended all residents get vaccinated and wear face coverings.
“We continue to make progress in the vaccination efforts countywide,” he said. “About 76% of the eligible population has received at least one dose. This includes a 1% increase from last week.”
Moreno noted the biggest increases in Monterey County have been the age bracket of 12 to 17 with an increase of 3%, and the 18 to 24 and 35 to 44 groups, which both had an increase of 2%.
“In South County, where we have some of the lower rates, an additional 2% of residents have been vaccinated,” Moreno said. “We continue to make progress across the county and we had a slightly bigger increase in certain populations locally.”
Moreno also shared new findings from the FDA and ACIP, which showed immunocompromised patients were at risk for prolonged and severe illness and prolonged shedding of the virus.
He also explained that immunocompromised individuals account for the majority of breakthrough cases, where a person who is vaccinated still catches Covid-19.