STOCKTON — San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park presented her final COVID-19 update to the board of supervisors Tuesday before the state completely reopens next week.
And with one week to go, Park told supervisors that both the county and the state were on the right track, and that things were looking positive as California’s economy is set to reopen June 15.
“The state has done a great job with vaccinations,” she said. “That seems to be reflected in the decrease of our case rates, which has been sustained.”
Park said the state is experiencing a 0.8% test positivity rate and only two new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per day — the lowest among all 50 states.
The county’s test positivity rate is down to 2%, and it is seeing 3.8 new cases per 100,000 residents per day. Its health equity rate is 2.7% as well, she said.
Death rates from COVID-19 have decreased as well, she said, and the county’s intensive care unit capacity is well below 100%. The number of patients in all seven San Joaquin County hospitals has stabilized in the 20 to 30 range, and has been less than 40 since mid-May.
According to county public health’s data dashboard, only one death was recorded May 29, down from a record 91 recorded on Jan. 16.
“It appears that in the last couple of weeks we’ve had no deaths (related to COVID-19),” she said. “But there is a possibility we may see more death certificates, and if we do, we will update our information. But with the data we have now, it’s looking very positive.”
According to San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency, 40 people were being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals, and only 10 were in an ICU.
Five people were being treated at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial, with one in the ICU. Three people were being treated at Dameron, which is managed by Adventist Health, and two were in the ICU.
In addition to low death numbers and patients being treated in hospitals, Park said the county’s transmission rate has also declined.
According to state date, the county’s transmission rate is .86, meaning anyone currently diagnosed with COVID-19 has the potential to spread the virus to less than one person.
In addition, the state is projecting just 26 patients with COVID-19 in county hospitals by July 8, with nine of those in the ICU.
As of Tuesday, county public health was reporting that there have been 74,257 COVID-19 cases and 1,426 deaths since the pandemic began 15 months ago.
There are currently 906 active cases, and 71,926 people have recovered.
In Lodi’s 95240 ZIP Code, there have been 4,925 cases and 152 deaths, while in the 95242 ZIP Code, there have been 2,088 cases and 37 deaths.
County public health reported that 252,561 residents were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, and 66,053 had received their first dose.
Sacramento County was reporting 107,030 cases on Tuesday, as well as 1,716 deaths. There have been 2,832 cases and 47 deaths in Galt.
There have been 611,462 residents fully vaccinated in Sacramento County, and 145,336 residents waiting for their second dose.
Only Del Norte, Shasta and Yuba counties remained in the red tier Tuesday, while San Joaquin and Sacramento counties were two of the 31 in orange, making up 36.5% of the state’s population. The remaining 24 counties — or 62.7% of the population — were in the least restrictive yellow tier.
The tier system will be eliminated June 15 when all capacity and distancing restrictions will be lifted for most businesses and activities, according to the CDPH.
Large-scale indoor events will have vaccination or negative test requirements for guests through at least Oct. 1, the agency said, while vaccination verification will be recommended for outdoor mega events.
Masks and facial coverings will not be required for fully vaccinated people, unless attending crowded outdoor events like concerts, parades, fairs, festivals and sporting events, among others.
Those not fully vaccinated will still be required to wear masks or facial coverings outdoors any time social distancing can not be maintained.
For indoor settings outside the home, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status, with some exceptions. Those include in an office where individuals can be in a closed room, or those receiving medical or cosmetic services.
Supervisors were concerned with a masking update issued by CalOSHA last week, which stated fully vaccinated individuals not showing COVID-19 symptoms do not need to wear face coverings in a room where everyone else is fully vaccinated.
However, if there is a combination of fully vaccinated employees and unvaccinated employees in a room, everyone will be required to wear masks in a room.
Supervisors Chuck Winn, who represents Lodi and Ripon, and Robert Rickman, who represents Tracy, said the OSHA guidelines force those who do not want to get vaccinated to do so in order to discontinue wearing a facial covering.
“What we have in this proposal by OSHA is peer pressure,” Winn said. “Because if one person who works on the sixth floor of a building isn’t vaccinated, either because of personal or religious reasons or whatever, everyone has to wear a mask. It doesn’t make sense. I think a lot of people are just going to blow this off.”
Winn added that he knew of a few people in the county who wore masks, yet still contracted COVID-19 and suffered from mild cases. He also knew of a few people, he said, who still contracted the virus after being vaccinated, and questioned if vaccinations were actually effective.
“Yes, (vaccination) is working,” Park replied. “We’ve had enough time to follow people who have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Clearly, they’re very strongly effective, and they do work to prevent infection or at least prevent contracting the disease that would require hospitalization or cause death. As long as we have unvaccinated people, we’ll still have hosts for this virus. We still have people out there that can still receive it and get sick.”