The Public Health Department warned of a possible COVID-19 case surge and the importance of vaccinations to curb the threat on Tuesday, during a county commissioners' meeting.
Public Health Director Ed Hill said the County has recorded two more cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant since it first surfaced in the area two weeks ago, bringing the total to five cases. Hill also said the caseload jumped by 70 in the last week.
The Delta variant is now considered the dominant variant in California, Hill said, and poses a particular danger to the unvaccinated. Along with the spread of Delta, California has started seeing increased COVID-19 cases, with LA county seeing 3,000 new positive cases in three days, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We have always been a month to a month-and-a-half behind the rest of the counties,” Hill said. “The Delta variant is very transmissible in areas where there are low vaccination rates, which Kings County has very low vaccination rates. We do anticipate cases to increase.”
Kings County has a 37% vaccination rate and is distributing significantly under their capacity of shots every week, Hill said. California has an overall vaccination rate of 60.6% and 48.1% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Hill said there is a small percentage of “break through cases” of COVID infections in vaccinated people, and “extremely small” hospitalization rates among vaccinated people, compared to the unvaccinated.
Commissioner Craig Peterson inquired about the interest levels in vaccines in the county. While vaccination rates are still relatively low, Hill said interest in mobile vaccine clinics has gone up, with several churches and the College of the Sequoias on the schedule.
In addition, Hill said the State is going to send information to MediCal users about at-home vaccination, which the County provides as well.
“From the standpoint of those who haven’t gotten the shot, just reminding them that when and if they’re ready, we have adequate supplies and we’ll go pretty much anywhere, anytime to get them in their arms,” Peterson said.
Hill also said the County is having a hard time tracking cases because many infected people are unwilling to answer questions for contact tracers. While cases are low, adequate contact tracing can help prevent an outbreak, but if an outbreak were to happen it would be too late for tracking, Hill said.
The commissionersl unanimously approved a contract with Corcoran for Kings County Fire to provide emergency services. Fire Chief Bill Lynch said the five-year contract will include 100% cost recovery for the county.
They also unanimously passed Probation Services Week, July 18 to 24, to celebrate probation officers and professionals in the county.
County Counsel Lee Burdick remembered her last day in the position after two years. She thanked the council for the opportunity to serve Kings County.