MONTEREY COUNTY — Flu season is on the horizon and Monterey County is preparing for the response to that regular occurrence while also dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“This year it is incredibly important that people get their flu shot,” said Karen Smith, the county’s public information officer, at a press briefing Sept. 18. “We want to keep the pressure off the health care providers in the hospitals. Every year many people are hospitalized with flu.”
Starting Oct. 10, the county will host no-cost flu clinics in partnership with area hospitals. Information is available on the county website.
No-cost flu clinics in South Monterey County will be Oct. 18 at Mee Memorial Hospital from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 24 at a location to be determined in Gonzales, and Oct. 29 with a location to be determined in Greenfield.
The county continues to host two free Covid-19 testing sites, one in Salinas and one in Greenfield.
During the Soledad City Council meeting Sept. 16, Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma reported from a recent county mayor’s meeting that area mayors urged the county to keep the Greenfield site open.
“Our numbers are still extremely high in South County,” Ledesma said.
There are no immediate plans to relocate or remove the site, but Ledesma said it could become a concern due to the testing numbers going from 100 per day to fewer than 40 per day.
Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno said there were no specific plans for closure when asked during the Sept. 18 press briefing.
“We’re following testing rates throughout the county,” Moreno said. “The state is providing the testing, but the state is primarily depending on us, the locals, to determine where the best use is.”
Moreno went on to explain, “We do want to make the best use of testing sites … because we do not want to allow the state to have any reason to remove one of our testing sites to give to another county.”
Moreno said the county’s evaluation of testing data is being used to make adjustments if necessary, including working with partner agencies to identify places where temporary testing sites can be set up throughout the county.
While speaking about the testing rates seeing a five-week decline in infections, Moreno presented info on testing, which showed South Monterey County has more tests than most other portions of the county.
“Our highest testing rates right now are primarily in our Salinas Valley area,” Moreno said.
He went on to discuss the waivers schools can apply for to resume in-person instruction. He said all waivers would be evaluated by the county before being passed along for official consideration by the state.
With trick or treating for Halloween on the horizon at the end of the month, Moreno also said the county is looking at recommendations from other counties in how to handle traditional porch candy distributions, but had no official guidance yet.