Trinity Hospital has made the most of its allocation of Pfizer vaccine doses and is expecting to do the same when it comes time for recipients to get their second dose.
Hospital CEO Aaron Rogers said the hospital has administered 101 doses to its staff members over the past couple of weeks. In December, Rogers said that it was found that while each vial was supposed to hold five doses, staff could actually get six out of each. He said the hospital was allocated enough vials for 85 doses but was able to stretch it to 101 doses.
Those who received the Pfizer vaccine will need another in about 18 to 24 days. Rogers said the hospital is working with County Public Health to determine if the same amount will be allocated for the follow-up shots.
“We’re hoping to get the same amount,” he said, noting that a few additional doses may be needed in case of unforeseen issues, so everyone who had a shot will get a follow-up.
As for the point when there will be enough vaccines available to distribute widely, Rogers predicted the hospital, Redding Rancheria and CVS pharmacy will be able to offer them in a similar manner as flu shots. He said it’s still unknown when the vaccine will be available to the public en masse, as vaccine must be prioritized by state standards.
According to the county COVID dashboard, five new cases have been reported in Trinity County since the start of the New Year’s holiday, with 11 cases currently active. As of Monday, the county has reported four COVID-19 deaths. There are currently no cases in county hospitals, but 276 people have been placed in isolation and 813 in quarantine.
In the first update of 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday’s numbers tally 29,633 COVID cases statewide, a bit below the seven-day average of 37,845.
He said that while it’s good to see a modest reduction in virus growth rates, the numbers do not reflect realities like a six-fold increase in hospital ICU admissions in the past two months.
He cautioned people not to trust numbers collected in the past two weeks, as the holidays created a lag in testing and collection. He said it’s expected that a surge will come soon that will reflect infections stemming from the holiday season.
Reporting 3,959 deaths statewide over the past week, and 97 died on Jan. 3, Newson again cautioned that the numbers may be misleading, based on data collection lags over the holidays.
“This is a deadly disease and this is a deadly pandemic,” he stressed. “It remains more deadly today than at any point in the history of this pandemic, so I want to put that in perspective that while 97 is deadly and as devastating as that may be, the number is substantially lower than that 7-day average. It’s a reminder of the seriousness and purpose we all must have at this moment, to mitigate the spread and deadliness of this disease.”
Newsom said hope is offered through the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which are currently being distributed around the state. He said it’s been a challenge to get 100 percent of the distributed vaccines into people’s arms. He said the state has been working to increase the number of distribution sites and which agencies can handle them. He said more pharmacies, national guard members, dental offices and others are being considered to implement vaccination sites around the state.
He said the state agreement with pharmacies is currently administering vaccines to those in skilled nursing facilities.
“The state actually has, in its possession, about 1.29 million does,” he said. “We have 611,500 doses being shipped — they haven’t arrived yet.” He said 454,000 doses have been given and states are sharing information about what practices and methods are working best.
Noting that the state is in phase one — vaccinating health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents, Newsom said a few million people will be vaccinated.
He said the next phase, 1B, will include those 75 and older, and those who work in education, child care, food, agriculture and emergency services. He said other updated information will be released today, Jan. 6.
Following that, the next phase will include those over 65, and those working in transportation sheltering, critical manufacturing, incarcerated citizens and the homeless population.
Discussions are pending regarding the following phase, called 1C, will include those from 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. It also includes those working on water and wastewater management, defense, energy, communication, IT, and financial services.
A new strain
Newsom said a lot of genome testing takes place in California and that four people in San Diego and two in San Bernardino were identified as having the newest strain of the virus, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
“We should anticipate that there will be others identified and we will know more about this in real time,” he said, “and hopefully, as late as this afternoon or tomorrow, we’ll be able to update you more on some of the latest genome testing that’s been done to understand what this strain looks like and what it’s been doing.” He said contact tracing is giving officials a better idea of how the strain was contracted. Newsom stressed that while the new variant is considered to be more contagious, it is not thought to be more severe in regard to its symptoms and health impacts.
He said Centers for Disease Control does believe the current available vaccines will protect against it and that hopefully, other companies like Johnson and Johnson may release vaccines for approval. In the meantime, he advised Californians to continue adhering to the safety protocols that all have grown accustomed to.
Newsom encouraged residents to tune into the covid19.ca.gov website Jan. 6 from 3 to 6 p.m., for the Community Vaccine Advisory committee meeting. He said the 60-person group includes the safety committee that signed off on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. He said that while the group plans to officialize the phases, they also plan to offer updated information.
At the close of 2020, Newsom introduced legislation to expand in-person instruction in California schools this spring and included a $2 billion budget proposal to support safety measures in schools. According to a release from the Governor’s Office, components of the plan are to be launched in the coming weeks.
“In the midst of this pandemic, my administration is focused on getting students back into the classroom in a way that leads with student and teacher health,” he said. “By focusing on a phased approach with virus mitigation and prevention at the center, we can begin to return our kids to school to support learning needs and restore the benefits of in-person instruction. It’s especially important for our youngest kids, those with disabilities, those with limited access to technology at home and those who have struggled more than most with distance learning.”
Called the Safe Schools for All Plan, the proposal will provide funding to support safe reopening of schools in the way of protective equipment, testing and ventilation for schools using in-person learning.
“To further ensure health and safety in the classroom, the administration will support implementation of key health measures,” the release states. “This will include frequent testing for all students and staff, including weekly testing for communities with high rates of transmission; masks for all students and staff, including distribution of millions of surgical masks for school staff; improved coordination between school and health officials for contact tracing; and prioritization of school staff for vaccinations.”
It will also provide hands-on oversight for some schools and will allow resources for parents to stay up to date on school statuses, outbreaks and funding data.
California State PTA President Celia Jaffe said “Getting our kids back to school safely must be the top priority for our state and guide our reopening policy. School is an essential service for millions of California children and their families, especially in lower-income communities where we are seeing higher rates of adverse health impacts tied to prolonged time away from the classroom.”
For more information, see the California Department of Public Health website and find the California’s Safe Schools for all program.
On Tuesday the California Department of Public Health announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19, including data on intensive care unit capacity across the state. Based on ICU data, four regions, San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Greater Sacramento and the Bay Area continue under the Regional Stay at Home Order. Once a region’s four-week ICU projection shows a capacity of greater than or equal to 15 percent, the order will be lifted for that area.
Current Available ICU Capacity by Region:
► Bay Area: 5.9%
► Greater Sacramento: 11.7%
► Northern California: 29.8%
► San Joaquin Valley: 0.0%
► Southern California: 0.0%
Current Status of Regional Stay at Home Order in Affected Regions:
► San Joaquin Valley: Remains under order; four-week ICU capacity projections do not meet criteria to exit order.
► Southern California: Remains under order; four-week ICU capacity projections do not meet criteria to exit order.
► Greater Sacramento: Remains under order; four-week ICU capacity projections do not meet criteria to exit order.
► Bay Area: Will remain under the order until at least Jan. 8 with potential to extend depending on four-week ICU capacity projections.
ICU capacity projections for regions that are eligible to exit the order are calculated daily based on four factors: current estimated regional ICU capacity available, measure of current community transmission, current regional case rates and the proportion of ICU cases being admitted. Decreasing community transmission and increasing the health system capacity can help a region’s projected ICU capacity so they can exit the order.
Statewide COVID-19 Data
► California has 2,452,334 confirmed cases to date. Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed.
► There were 31,440 newly recorded confirmed cases Monday.
► The 7-day positivity rate is 13.6% and the 14-day positivity rate is 12.7%.
► There have been 34,330,784 tests conducted in California. This represents an increase of 203,771 during the prior 24-hour reporting period.
► As case numbers continue to rise in California, the total number of individuals who will have serious outcomes will also increase. There have been 27,003 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
► As of Jan. 4, a total of 459,564 vaccine doses have been administered statewide. As of Jan. 4, a total of 1,647,625 vaccine doses have been shipped to local health departments and health care systems that have facilities in multiple counties.