Slight decrease in local cases could bode well for COVID outlook

Speaker 1: (00:00)

Although the spread of COVID 19 remains high locally, San Diego County saw a slight reduction in cases over the weekend, whether or not this slowdown represents the beginning of the end of the current outbreak remains to be seen. However, there are signs that the current rate of transmission may stabilize before beginning a steeper decline in the coming weeks. Joining me now with more is KBB S health reporter Matt Hoffman, Matt. Thanks for join us. Hey, Christina, Matt, how do the most recent case numbers compare to the data from the previous week?

Speaker 2: (00:29)

Yeah. So if you look at the data as a whole, you know, on the state website, the county website, it clearly shows a drop in the number of reported cases. You know, we still see thousands of cases, but certainly less. One thing I will say though is that the positivity rate is something we’ve been struggling with lately. We had it really low and in the single digits before, but, uh, it’s been hanging around that 25% or so area, uh, so that’s something that’s definitely been, uh, a concern for the officials

Speaker 1: (00:56)

Do recent numbers indicate that we may indeed be heading for a downward trend in K facilities in the county.

Speaker 2: (01:03)

This definitely indicates that we are headed downhill, or at least in this recent wave we are starting to like the plateau and, and the head of the head in a better way. Uh, we also have to back that up, uh, the wastewater data, uh, from the health experts at UC San Diego looking at some of these things from the Point Loma treatment plant. Uh, we know that, you know, the infection first develops in the intestine before reaching the respiratory tract. And it’s when they look at that sewage, when they can see, you know, how much, uh, transmission there’s been in the community, they’ve been able to predict past surges. And they’re also starting to see, uh, the amount of COVID that’s inside of that sewage. So, uh, a good indicator, a good, uh, early indicator that we’re on the downside, uh, of the push.

Speaker 1: (01:42)

Do we know if hospitalizations are also falling?

Speaker 2: (01:45)

Hospitalizations were another thing. It’s sort of a thorn in the side of San Diego County. Uh, they’ve gone up sharply since the Thanksgiving holiday. Um, and they got stuck there. Uh, no, not as comparable as the surge we’ve had this time of year, but still, you know, 1300, uh, COVID-related host hospital

Speaker 1: (02:04)

That’s a lot considering it’s all local health experts hoping for what we’re seeing right now.

Speaker 2: (02:09)

You know, the last thing we heard from, uh, county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten was last week. Uh, and she, uh, made a statement saying, you know, there’s still a lot of viral activity in our community. And the best bet to prevent illness is to avoid large crowds, wear your mask. You know, things we know how to do, to stay safe here. Um, and also, you know, she said, do a booster shot when you’re eligible. And of course, by encouraging vaccinations, about 80% of San Diego residents have done so. So, uh, keep doing the things that we know are working to prevent the spread of this virus, but, you know, in this business they never want to predict and say, yeah, we’re going in a, in a well, in a good way. And then, you know, a week later, we start going in the opposite direction, but they also want to look for trends. Uh, not just looking at, you know, the cases of a few days, but looking at them over a period of a few weeks,

Speaker 1: (02:53)

Speaking of trends, have the experts indicated when they think the peak of this outbreak will be reached, are we close? Did we pass it? Where are we exactly?

Speaker 2: (03:01)

So, you know, speaking with experts to work on the remediation project, you know, they definitely think that in terms of workload that we’re, you know, still inside the wave right now moment, but on the downward trend of the ascend. I mean, in terms of cases now, hospitalizations, uh, might be a bit more of a lagging indicator, but there’s hope that you know, that should turn around soon in the next two weeks

Speaker 1: (03:19)

Or so across the region, staffing shortages remain a top concern for hospital administrators. Do we see this problem easing at all?

Speaker 2: (03:27)

I would say yes, we definitely see it fading a bit. You know, there aren’t as many staff in these hospital systems as they were, you know, compared to just after the New Years holidays, but they’re still seeing an impact. Um, there’s still a lot of cost out there and it’s affecting hospital workers as well. Uh, and we always see, you know, systems like scripts that have to, you know, delay care and delay some of these procedures that, you know, might not be a big deal now, but you put it back at one year. You put it off for two years and then it becomes, you know, an even bigger problem for other systems like that. They not only need to move patients, but also move staff from different clinical areas, bring them inside the hospital to keep pace with rapid admission and discharge of COVID patients.

Speaker 1: (04:05)

I want to talk about testing now. Many San Diego residents are still struggling to get test kits. Do we know that this high demand for tests has decreased at all in recent weeks

Speaker 2: (04:13)

Didn’t decrease at all. In recent weeks, the demand for tests is still very high. We’ve actually seen the county move to open, you know, not all of the county is doing the bulk of the testing. Uh, here in San Diego, they’re more of the safety net they’re saying we’ve seen them open another testing site in North County over there in, uh, Escondido. All hospital systems report. You know, the demand for testing is always on the rise. And if you look at the data on the county website, it’s gone up a bit, well over 10,000, even if you compare it to a month ago, we know we’re still seeing some of those long lines of waiting, there, but usually the providers get the tests back pretty quickly in about two days. Uh, you know, some of the signs you see say two to four days, uh, but also keep in mind, all these tests that are, uh, going on, those don’t include any of the rapid tests. Uh, those are just the lab-confirmed PCR tests. And

Speaker 1: (04:54)

In related news, there’s a proposed new California bill that would add the COVID 19 vaccine to the state’s acquired inoculation list. Here’s San Diego Unified Council member Richard Barre talking about it. Yes

Speaker 3: (05:06)

Some people mean that by sending their unvaccinated students to school, they are willing to risk the help and safety of all other students and educators. We need to send a different message

Speaker 1: (05:19)

Matt, before leaving. What can you tell us about this pose law?

Speaker 2: (05:22)

Yeah, so this bill would sort of remove the mandatory personal belief exemption so the state could enforce something like a vaccination mandate inside those schools. And keep in mind, that’s something we’ve seen, you know, San Diego unified, they tried to implement a COVID 19 vaccine mandate, uh, but a San Diego judge, you know, canceled that, said that, Hey, this has to be something that needs to be done by lawmakers. Um, and so that’s exactly what you know, this lawmaker is trying to do, obviously with the support of some of the biggest school systems in the state, but it’s still got a long way to go, you know, it’s coming just being introduced. So we’ll see, uh, if there’s an appetite from other politicians in the public for this, I’ve been

Speaker 1: (05:57)

Speaking with KBB S Health Reporter Matt Hoffman, Matt, thanks again for joining us.

Speaker 2: (06:01)

Thank you Christina. I,

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