STOCKTON — San Joaquin County Public Health Services announced this week that due to the rapid increase in local cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, fully vaccinated people are being strongly encouraged to wear masks indoors again.
On July 13, Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park said there were 25 Delta variant cases in San Joaquin County. As of Tuesday, that number had more than doubled, she said.
Currently, the California Department of Public Health mask mandate requires individuals who are not vaccinated to wear face coverings in indoor settings, while face coverings are required for everyone in health care settings, jails, on public transportation and in schools.
However, the county is now requesting that everyone wear masks while in indoor settings, whether they are vaccinated or not.
“Masking provides an additional layer of protection for both the wearer and those around them,” Park said in a media statement Tuesday. “We know fully vaccinated people are well protected even from the Delta variant and are unlikely to experience severe disease, but they can still get and transmit COVID.”
According to county Public Health, only 48% of eligible San Joaquin County residents aged 12 years and older are fully vaccinated, leaving those who have not been vaccinated at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“The best protection we have against COVID-19 is vaccination,” Park said.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom reopened the state’s economy on June 15, the county had just been promoted to the orange tier of the now-defunct Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
At that time, the county’s new COVID-19 case rate was at 3.6 per 100,000 residents a day, and its test positivity rate had been lowered to 1.4%. The county’s seven hospitals were treating only 34 people for COVID-19.
At the same time, California’s test positivity rate was 0.8%, the lowest among all 50 states. Its new case rate was 2.2 per 100,000 residents as well.
But just a little more than a month later, those numbers have jumped again, as the state’s test positivity rate increases to 4.2% and its new case rate soars to 7.6 per 100,000 residents, according to an analysis conducted by the San Jose Mercury News.
In San Joaquin County, the new case rate has exploded to 8 per 100,000 residents, while the test positivity rate has increased to 4.9%. Fifty-six people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Joaquin County according to the most recent data available from the state on Tuesday.
If the Blueprint for a Safer Economy was still in effect, the county’s new case rate would place it back in the red tier, along with 24 others.
There have now been 75,086 COVID-19 cases in the county since March 2020, according to the state’s data dashboard. That’s a 667 increase from when the state reopened June 15. Deaths from COVID-19 in the county remain at 1,431 from when the state reopened.
In Sacramento County, the case rate surged to 11.1 per 100,000 residents this week, with a positivity rate of 6.2%. Those metrics would place the county in the purple tier with 11 others if the Blueprint for a Safer Economy was still in effect. There were 146 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, an increase from 70 when the state reopened.
There have now been 111,470 cases in Sacramento County since March of 2020. That’s an increase of 4,029 since the state reopened last month. There have been no deaths in the county since June 15, according to state data.
More than 20.8 million Californians have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, accounting for 61.4% of the state’s population. According to state data, nearly 1.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in Sacramento County, the eighth highest in California, while nearly 674,000 doses have been given in San Joaquin County, the 14th highest.
The state did not have county numbers for fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals.
The surge in new cases comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all students and staff in K-12 public school districts wear masks at all times on campus.
This week, Lodi Unified School District notified parents that students will be required to wear masks indoors when school begins Aug. 1, and adults in school settings will be required to wear masks when sharing indoor spaces with students.
Students who do not have a mask will be given one to wear indoors at school. Masks will be optional outdoors for students and staff, the district said.
Vaccines are free and available to all individuals ages 12 and over, regardless of immigration status. Visit MyTurn.ca.gov or call 833-422-4255 to schedule an appointment.