A Reserve Citizen Airman assigned to the 307th Medical Squadron prepares a syringe before administering a COVID-19 vaccination at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Nov. 7, 2022. The unit was administering the shots as part of on-going mitigation efforts. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Celeste Zuniga via Bay City News)

COVID-19 is still receding in Contra Costa County as the state plans to drops most indoor masking mandates, including those at public schools statewide by March 11.

“It’s clear that we’ve entered a new phase of the pandemic response,” Anna Roth, the county health director, told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “The pandemic isn’t over but things are really changing from the time when the blanket health orders were the best way to protect the public.

“Many people now actually have some immunity from vaccinations or past infections,” Roth said. “These are laying the groundwork as to why it’s much safer to move into this next phase. Protecting ourselves in the community is really now up to each of us.”

The county continues to see hospitalization and case numbers plummet, while vaccination numbers continue to rise.

“This week our county reached a new milestone with 50 percent of all those eligible for a booster are now up-to-date with their vaccinations,” Roth said. “And while we’re glad that that numbers are still on the rise, that number is still too low for our comfort. We’ve got a long way to go before the community is safe as possible from COVID-19.

“As a community, we need to be flexible, adaptable, and prepared for COVID-19. We don’t know what the future holds, and we know that a new variant could significantly change the circumstances,” she said.

Roth said the county is ready for some good news.

“Right now, case numbers and hospitalizations for people with COVID-19 are continuing to fall across our county,” Roth said. “Our average number of new cases over the past week is 151, that’s down 45 percent from last week. The number of people hospitalized is 83, that’s down 35 percent from last week.”

Roth said the health department still “strongly” recommends wearing masks, regardless of vaccination status.

“Evidence supports the use of masks,” Roth said, “You’re 83 percent less likely to get infected.”