Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Infection rates are declining in Monterey County, with fewer daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 as time goes on, reported county health officer Dr. Edward Moreno during the March 3 press briefing.

“If we continue to avoid gatherings and stay home as much as possible and continue to wear the masks and wash our hands and keep our distance, we should be able to reduce transmission of the virus, which can further reduce the case rate and further reduce our positivity rate, which will reduce hospitalizations and reduce deaths,” Moreno said. “It will also possibly move the county into the red tier over time.”

Moreno explained California would be revising its requirements for opening as outlined in the Blueprint for a Safe Economy, which currently has Monterey County at the highest risk tier, purple. If the county continues to lower its infection rate, it could meet thresholds to move into the red tier, which would ease some restrictions.

The increased push toward vaccination may be a part of the positive trends.

Moreno said 77% of vaccines allocated to Monterey County facilitators have been administered, and the overall percentage of residents age 18 or older who have received at least one dose is 15%.

“We were told California should expect to get 3 million doses administered in the month of March and 4 million doses in the month of April,” Moreno said, noting that there are currently no details on the breakdown of which vaccines will compose those numbers. “We continue to receive weekly vaccine and we can anticipate being able to hopefully have an ongoing stream of vaccines coming in to Monterey County.”

Last week Monterey County’s adjusted rate of daily new Covid-19 cases improved to 10 per 100,000 residents, which kept it within the purple tier, but was below the 14 rating that was the required threshold for reopening youth sports programs.

As of Wednesday, the county’s adjusted case rate dropped to 7.2, just above the red tier requirement of ratings between 4.0 and 7.0.

With expected changes to the state blueprint for reopening, Moreno said thresholds to move between tiers might be adjusted. However, it is likely the state would add additional triggers to implement shifts between tiers.

“Our testing rates continue to decline here in Monterey County and across the state,” Moreno said. “We still have a lot of testing capacity.”

He encouraged anyone who believes they may have Covid-19, or might have been exposed, to get tested.

The new Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s approval for emergency distribution was part of the increased availability of vaccines, Moreno noted.

“The new vaccine is 67% efficacious in preventing Covid-19, specifically moderate or severe illness, and it can also reduce the risk of hospitalization for those that do get Covid-19,” Moreno said.

The new vaccine only requires one dose, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that require a second dose a few weeks after the first dose is administered.

“The state has shared with us there’s an anticipated 20 million doses committed by the manufacturer to be delivered to the United States through the end of March,” Moreno said about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “We could expect up to 300,000 doses to be allocated to California over the next three weeks, but we don’t have any details as to how much Monterey County will receive through state allocations.”

Though hospitals and some clinics must wait for the county to receive an allocation, which in turn comes from the state and the federal level, Moreno said some pharmacies are part of federal partnerships that receive allocations directly from the federal government, including Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens, all three of which have locations within the Salinas Valley.

Moreno said as more people become eligible to receive the vaccine, the county would continue to get doses to them. One anomaly in the math has come from a recent request by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“The governor had expressed his desire to have 10% of allocation be dedicated to educators,” Moreno said. “There’s no new vaccine with that, it’s just for us to take 10% of what we were allocated and try to get that directed toward educators.”

As of last week, Monterey County had been allocated a total of 91,620 vaccine doses for local vaccine providers.

Previous articleBlack and Hispanic communities grapple with vaccine misinformation
Next articleLockwood 4-H hosts virtual record book workshops
Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here