KN95 masks and nitrile gloves on January 26, 2022. The masks and gloves have been PPE staples during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

Contra Costa County’s first case of monkeypox was confirmed Tuesday, and COVID-19 transmission is back on the rise countywide, health officials told the Board of Supervisors.

“We’ve seen a significant rise in transmission of COVD-19; this is due to the new variants BA.4 and BA.5, much more contagious variants,” county health director Anna Roth told the board.

“We are though, however, holding pretty steady with our hospitalizations, as well as utilization of our ICU. Those are important numbers now, for us, because we know the case rate and so many people — we know this is happening — are testing at home and that’s absolutely great news. But it also sort of makes case rates harder to track, so we still do look at those hospitalization numbers.”

County hospitalizations have risen steadily since July 4. They hit 100 on Friday for the first time since July 2. As of Tuesday, there were 102 people in the hospital, 12 of them in the ICU. Nearly 83 percent of county residents have been vaccinated, with 56.1 percent boosted.

Cases have risen steadily since April 1. As of Tuesday, there have been 229,926 cases in Contra Costa, with 6,606 currently active.

“We still strongly recommend masking indoors,” Roth said. “It’s not an order; it’s a strong recommendation.

“It’s still a powerful preventative, and our most powerful prevention remains the vaccination,” Roth told the board. “Just a couple data points: if you are unvaccinated, you are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized.”

Roth said, since vaccines rolled out in December 2020, “81 percent of our deaths have been in the unvaccinated population. So, I really want to make sure we drive that point home. If you’re not vaccinated, please go get vaccinated. If you’re over 50 and you have not gotten a vaccination this year, in 2022, it’s time for you to go get a booster.”

Dr. Sofe’ Mekuria, deputy health officer for Contra Costa County, said monkeypox has appeared in the county and, though it can cause serious illness, most people aren’t at high risk.

She said, so far, doctors know it gets passed by close human contact, though they still aren’t sure whether it spreads via air. But it’s not as contagious as COVID-19.

Mekuria also said the county is vaccinating children younger than 5 for COVID-19. About 8 percent of the county’s children 5 and under are vaccinated. She pointed out about 1,500 children that age have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

To find out more about getting vaccinated, go to https://cchealth.org/.