As of Tuesday morning, the Dashboard of the Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) reported recently confirmed cases (last two weeks) of COVID at Idyllwild School as being one student and no staff members, in other words, 0.33% of its combined student/staff population, the same as last week. At Hemet High, three students and two staff members are reported as confirmed cases, which is 0.19% of its student/staff population, less than half of last week’s report.
The HUSD Dashboard states: “Positive cases will appear on the Dashboard for 14 days from the date they are reported and then will be removed after the 14th day.” So, HUSD’s rolling Dashboard does not report the cumulative confirmed cases throughout the district, but rather those cases confirmed as being active during the previous two weeks.
As of Tuesday, Riverside County Public Health (RCPH) reported 235 total cases of COVID in the Idyllwild-Pine Cove community, with 229 recovered and four deaths, leaving two cases currently active in our community.
County-wide, as of Nov. 20, RCPH reported a total of 370,051 confirmed COVID cases (4,242 more than last week) with 5,358 deaths (93 more than last week). The county reports 265 hospitalized COVID patients (six more than last week). The number of available ICU beds in Riverside County is 79 (25 fewer than last week).
A week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) downgraded Riverside County from a “High” to a “Substantial” transmission area. The CDC website did not update this past Thursday as it usually does because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
RCPH is currently reporting that 57.1% of the county population ages 18 to 49, 71.2% of those ages 50 to 64, and 72.0% of the population ages 65 and up have been fully vaccinated. Visit https://rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine-with-Registration to schedule vaccinations.
As of Nov. 29, California has reported 4,801,843 total confirmed COVID cases (43,546 more than last week), with 73,656 resulting deaths (656 more than last week).
Back on Nov. 17, CDC reported the then-current national seven-day moving average of daily new U.S. COVID cases as 88,482, up 16.1% from the previous week. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, this data will not be updated until Dec. 3.
Just when it seemed that more people were beginning to feel more comfortable “coming out” from the restrictions of the pandemic, Omicron, the newest coronavirus variant, is causing fresh concern worldwide. It was discovered in South Africa last week and quickly found its way to Israel, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Australia and other countries. Just this past Sunday, two cases of Omicron-variant coronavirus were identified in Ottawa, Ontario, the capital city of Canada, and reportedly this number has risen to three. This was the first identification of Omicron in the Americas, but experts certainly are not expecting it to be the last.
Currently, little is known about the Omicron variant. According to interviews and reports, experts are scrambling to learn about four properties of this new variant: the severity of the illness it causes, its transmission propensity, its potential to further mutate and its susceptibility to existing vaccines. Early indications from South Africa suggest that the Omicron variant may be more transmittable, person to person, than the current Delta variant.
But South Africa also reports that the majority of its Omicron cases of COVID are in persons who were not vaccinated, and there is some indication that Omicron COVID symptoms may be somewhat milder than those of Delta. Scientists also suspect that Omicron’s particular “spike protein” structure may make it more likely to mutate. But scientists also say more definitive studies as to all these properties of the Omicron variant probably will take weeks.
As Omicron approaches, public health experts advise that we all return to what has been working regarding the Delta variant: masking, distancing, avoiding crowded locations and, of course, vaccination.
CDC urges that widespread vaccination for COVID-19 remains a crucial tool to best protect everyone, especially those at highest risk, from severe illness and death. CDC experts recommend that everyone ages 5 and older get vaccinated to help protect them and others. They urge that vaccinating children ages 5 and older helps keep them in school and enables them to more safely participate in sports, playdates and other group activities, and can also help protect their smaller brothers and sisters who are not eligible for vaccination and other family members who may be at increased risk due to age or preexisting conditions.
CDC now urges booster doses for all adults 18 years and older beginning six months after becoming fully vaccinated. Those who received the J&J shot can get a Pfizer or Moderna booster, since CDC has authorized boosters of a different manufacturer than the original vaccination.
COVID vaccinations are available in Idyllwild by appointment at Idyllwild Pharmacy and monthly at Idyllwild School on scheduled vaccination Saturdays. CDC reports that nationwide, more than 196.8 million persons have been fully vaccinated, while about 40.2 million of them have received the additional booster dose.
Further CDC resources are available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/.