Variants of the COVID-19 virus are climbing throughout Kings County, the Board of Supervisors learned this week.
"The rapid transmission of both delta and omicron" resulted in an average increase of 211 cases per day, said Darcy Pickens, interim public health director with the Kings County Department of Public Health (KCDPH).
Pickens addressed the Board of Supervisors with a COVID-19 update at its weekly meeting.
"We continued to see a rise in this past week," she said, attributing the increase of COVID cases to fallout from holiday gatherings and a rise in the number of cases reported within the 25- to 49-year-old age group.
"We are seeing an uptick among 16- to 19-year-olds as well," Pickens informed the supervisors, including Chairman Joe Neves (Dist. 1), Vice Chairman Richard Fagundes (Dist. 5), Doug Verboon (Dist. 3), Craig Pedersen (Dist. 4) and Richard Valle (Dist. 2) who participated in the meeting via videoconference from home due to a recent positive test for COVID-19.
Blood Supplies Low
Citing a shortage of blood supplies, Pickens encouraged the board to support local blood-donation drives.
"I am sure many of you heard that, nationally, we are seeing a shortage," she said.
The county's weekly health report referred to the nationwide shortage of blood supplies as "severe."
"According to the Red Cross" it's the worst shortage in more than a decade, according to the King's County Public Health weekly update.
"I want to encourage all who are able [to] donate, to reach out to your local blood center via donateblood.org and consider making a donation appointment today," Pickens said.
Test Kits In Demand
Supervisor Valle asked about the availability of COVID-19 home test kits coming from the state.
Pickens responded that KCDPH experienced a delay in test-kit shipments last week. However the department has enough kits "on hand to get us through until the shipment" arrives, she said.
"At no point did Public Health run out of tests," Pickens qualified.
At-home test kits are available to everyone who tests at the Hanford clinic or county health's mobile sites with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, "as long as supplies last," the report states.
Last week, the county's public health department collected a record number of COVID tests, totaling 3,786.
Public Funding Up
For local residents concerned about public funding for COVID-19 testing and prevention, this week's California state budget proposal offers positive news.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's 2022–23 budget proposal includes $2.7B to "ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations," Pickens reported. The figure incorporates statewide testing and increased medical personnel for COVID-19 response including $1.4B to continue battling the virus in 2022 and $1.3B for fiscal year 2023.
"Local health jurisdictions" are slated to receive a "minimum base allocation of $350,000," plus additional funds based on population, race-ethnicity and poverty data.
"Local funding is expected to broadly support the strengthening of health department staffing and priority areas identified during the pandemic," Pickens stated in her report to the Kings County Board of Supervisors.