March 16, 2022 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health
It is heartening to be experiencing some stability in key trends this March as we reflect on reaching the two-year milestones of the initial events that unfolded as the global COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
March 11th was the two-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of the pandemic, and today, March 16th marks the anniversary of the regional shelter-in-place order. Mindful of the humanitarian crises occurring in Ukraine each day as well as suffering that continues in other parts of the world, we are called always to try to reflect and learn from what we have been through to better meet the next crises. These days at the very least mark a pause to reflect and learn. If you have a thought you want to share directly with my team, we welcome your response sent to HS_Chief_Feedback@smcgov.org. I appreciated the framing of where we are from Jon Mays of the San Mateo Daily Journal: “This transition time feels hopeful, though, some caution still remains. This is our new reality. But we should be proud we were able to do something great — beat back a pandemic. And we did it together.”
The level of virus transmission is similar to what we were experiencing in early December. San Mateo County is categorized as “low” COVID-19 community level under the CDC’s rubric. Our 7-day lagged case rate average reported by the State yesterday is very similar to a week ago, at 9.8 cases per 100K in the population, compared to 10.2 in the week prior. This is an average of 76 new COVID-19 cases per day compared to 80 new cases per day in last week’s data. Since our 7-day peak of 239 cases per 100K in the population on January 8th, our case rate has declined by 96%. Test positivity rates countywide (1.8%) and in the Health Equity Quartile census tracts (2.2%) are also a bit lower than last week’s rates in the 7-day lagged data that goes through March 5th. The testing level reported by the State yesterday (incorporating a 7-day lag) was 762 tests per day per 100K in the population.
Monday’s census of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was 17, remaining low and manageable as our hospital partners continue to address many deferred and current healthcare needs. There were 6 residents in the hotel that offers safe isolation. As we have seen the need for isolation capacity taper down, we have been working on a sunsetting of this resource by next month. We so appreciate the collaboration we have had with every hospital’s discharge planning team as well as the ongoing close coordination with Human Services Agency colleagues and the shelter providers in offering this protection to residents unable to safely isolate in their homes.
Vaccination update: Our vaccination focus remains on the under-reached groups through County-sponsored 12+ and age 5-11-specific offerings in: South San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, Redwood City, and East Palo Alto. These are reflected on My Turn or on the vaccine clinic calendar on our County Health website.
Our overall County vaccination rate (including all eligible and ineligible residents) was at 89% for those who have received at least one dose and 83% for those who are fully vaccinated as of March 13th. The population groups in which we have not yet reached 80% to have received a first shot includes the Black population (68%), the Hispanic population (79%) and the Pacific Islander population (66%) as well as the age 5-11 population (66%).
The number of residents who have received a COVID-19 booster is over 419,000 with 81% of those eligible over age 65 for a booster countywide having received a booster. As with the primary series, we see gaps in booster take-up, such as an 8-percentage point gap in booster take-up for residents in the Health Equity Quartile compared to the Countywide rate. And just as for the primary series, we see that slow, steady progress requires consistent, steady access in each one of our communities. We continue to work with many partners across the community to reinforce the importance of vaccination, including boosters, as the greatest protection from the risks of severe disease or death from COVID-19. Thank you for the ways you continue to amplify this message within your communities.
All Together Better,
Louise F. Rogers