Santa Clara County is slowly resolving its sixth and most prolonged wave of COVID-19, but all layers of prevention remain important, the county health officer said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
The virus’ rate of infection and death toll has significantly dropped as more than 87 percent of the county’s population has been vaccinated — there was an average 271 new cases last week, as opposed to the county’s all-time peak of over 6,500 new cases in one week in January 2022.
Dr. Sara Cody, public health director and health officer for the county, said that though the county isn’t seeing over 150 deaths in a week like it once did, losing 10 to 15 county residents a week from COVID-19 is “still significant.”
“Sometimes it’s one chain of transmission that will ultimately lead to someone who is older or vulnerable being hospitalized or dying from COVID,” Cody said at the meeting.
Last week, Santa Clara County began providing the new COVID-19 booster that protects against both the virus’ original strain and the omicron variant. Residents can receive the new booster via health care providers, pharmacies or county clinics.
The goal is to get everyone ages 12 and older who are at least two months out from their last booster to get the new vaccine, Cody said.
“It’s important for preventing infection, but really, it’s much more important for preventing severe hospitalization and death. We do know that the more boosts you’ve had, the more you reduce your risk of severe illness and death,” Cody said.
Just Monday, Cody dropped the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers in high-risk settings like care facilities, homeless shelters and prisons, a policy initially set as the Bay Area faced a rise in highly contagious variants. She said the requirement was unnecessary as COVID-19 testing is easily accessible.
“COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our community, and I urge everyone to continue to protect each other and the most vulnerable among us by masking and staying up to date on their vaccinations with the latest bivalent booster,” Cody said in a statement upon the rescindment.