COVID declining, but rise expected due to new Omicron strains
On Tuesday, March 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for second booster shots for older persons and certain immune compromised individuals. Adults 50 years and older are eligible for a second booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least four months after their first booster of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Persons ages 12 years and older may obtain a second booster of Pfizer vaccine four months after their first booster of any authorized or approved COVID vaccine, if they have undergone solid organ transplantation or are living with conditions that have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. Such immunocompromised persons 18 years and older may obtain a second booster of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
With the exception of two states in the northeast and one in the south, COVID cases in the U.S. continue to decline, although not as rapidly now as recently, and experts anticipate a rise owing to highly contagious, but less dangerous, Omicron strains.
As of Tuesday, March 29, Riverside County Public Health was reporting a total of 312 COVID cases in Idyllwild-Pine Cove resulting in 6 deaths and 306 patients recovered, leaving no active cases in this community.
As of Monday, March 28, the state of California reports 590,251 total cases in Riverside County with 3.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day moving average. That works out to about 82 new cases over the current seven-day moving average period in our county, a nearly 20% reduction from last week. The state reports a total of 6,395 confirmed COVID deaths in Riverside County, 19 more than last week. The state also reports 63 currently hospitalized COVID patients in our county (29 fewer than last week), with 105 ICU beds currently available in our county, same as last week.
As of Tuesday, March 29, the Dashboard of the Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) continues to report no active cases (last two weeks) of COVID at Idyllwild School among either students or staff members. At Hemet High, five students and no staff members were reported as active cases, which is 0.19% of its combined student/staff population, same as last week. Hamilton School reported one student and no staff members with active COVID, which is 0.22% of its student-staff population.
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 reports active cases confirmed during the previous two weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to rate Riverside County’s “community level” as Low. People in all community levels are recommended to stay up to date with their vaccines, and to get tested if they have symptoms.
Riverside County Public Health (RCPH) reports that in Riverside County, 19.9% of the population ages 5 to 11 are now “fully vaccinated” — while 50.6% of ages 12 to 15, about 55.6% of ages 16 to 24, 59.9% of ages 25 to 44, 73.2% of ages 45 to 64 and 75.7% of ages 65-plus have been fully vaccinated. Currently, the term “fully vaccinated” still does not include boosters.
As of Tuesday, March 28, California reported 8,483,568 total confirmed COVID cases statewide (18,210 more than reported last week, which is 32.7% fewer new cases than the previous week) with 87,954 total resulting deaths (469 more than reported last week, which is a 32.1% reduction in new deaths from the previous week).
As of March 23, CDC’s current seven-day national moving average of daily new COVID cases was 27,134, a 9.7% reduction from the seven-day moving average reported last week. The Omicron variants account for virtually all new cases in the U.S., with the more serious Delta variants at zero. A total of 79,696,994 COVID-19 cases and 972,550 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the U.S.
CDC reported cases and hospitalizations in January 2022 were the highest since the pandemic began, but in February and March, cases have dropped rapidly. Do you wonder whether COVID vaccines work? On March 18, CDC released a new study showing that, “among adults hospitalized with COVID-19 during the Delta and Omicron waves, those who received two or three doses of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine had 90-95% less risk of dying or needing a ventilator compared with adults who were not vaccinated.”
CDC advises that vaccination, along with other prevention strategies, continues to be the best defense against severe COVID disease. Everyone ages 5 and up is recommended to be vaccinated, with boosters for everyone ages 12 and older — specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for those ages 12 to 15. CDC now recommends that people with weakened immune systems get their booster doses three months after their second dose instead of waiting five months.
COVID vaccinations are available in Idyllwild by appointment at Idyllwild Pharmacy (1-951-659-2135). Riverside County is not listing any place on the Hill as a future county vaccination location, but places in Hemet, San Jacinto, Banning, Beaumont, Moreno Valley, Desert Hot Springs and Palm Desert are listed. Visit https://rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine-with-Registration to schedule vaccinations through RCPH.
Also, CDC suggests visiting vaccines.gov, calling 1-800-232-0233 or texting your ZIP code to 438829 to find a vaccination site near you. Further CDC resources are available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/COVID-data/COVIDview/.