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COVID-19 case rates rose after the holidays but may be stabilizing, Alameda County’s health officer said Tuesday.

Speaking to the Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting, Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said the unadjusted case rate in the county was 35.5 per 100,000.

The number of new cases in the county has dropped in recent days from a high 1,296 on Thursday to 413 on Monday, according to the county’s dashboard.

“We might be through the worst,” Moss said.

Still, stay-at-home orders remain in place for the county, region and state and it’s unclear when they will be lifted.

Regionally, that’s because the capacity of beds in intensive care units is below the 15 percent required to lift the order.

In the Bay Area region, ICU bed capacity was just 4.7 percent on Tuesday. Moss said the adult ICU bed capacity in the county is 20 percent while statewide capacity is 0 percent.

“We’re doing better than the state overall and better than the region,” Moss said.

The number of people with COVID-19 in ICU beds in the county was 115 on Monday and overall, 428 were hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, vaccination in the county is moving forward with more than 4,000 expected to be vaccinated this week, Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency told supervisors.

County leaders are following the state’s guidance when it comes to vaccinating residents. About 145,000 people in the county are eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1A of the state’s protocol and about 53,000 first doses of the vaccine have been received in the county.

The Coliseum in Oakland may be used as a site for mass vaccinations, but the county has not received enough doses to do a mass vaccination, at least not yet, Chawla said.

That may change, she said.

Supervisor Wilma Chan said she heard that California has received the most doses of the vaccine of any U.S. state and given the fewest number of shots.

“I think it’s just unacceptable,” she said without commenting about the work in the county.
Chawla said the phased system for administering the vaccine makes it difficult to vaccinate lots of people quickly.

But she said the system is designed to vaccinate the people most at risk for contracting the virus and to distribute the vaccine equitably.

The problem with a more open system for vaccinating would mean people who face barriers to vaccination would get vaccinated more slowly, Moss said.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.