Health officials told the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday they believe the omicron variant of COVID-19 has peaked in the county, as case numbers have started to decline.
"I'm happy to report that we seem to have passed the omicron peak," said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, the county's deputy health officer. "Our case rate peaked on Jan. 9, and our hospitalizations peaked at the end of last week, on Jan. 20.
"That said, our hospitals are still very full," Tzvieli said. "There's currently 281 COVID patients hospitalized in Contra Costa County, which is up 36% from the week before. About half of those cases are there with COVID, but not necessarily because of COVID."
He said the county expects fewer hospitalizations in the coming weeks, as the average daily number of new cases is now falling.
"The seven-day daily case rate per 100,000 residents of Contra Costa is 183 per 100,000, which is a 30% drop from a week ago," Tzvieli said.
He said there are 29,000 active COVID cases countywide, which is "many, many more than in December."
"Our testing positivity rate has been above 21% for most of January, which is about 10 times higher than where we were in mid-December," Tzvieli said. "Unvaccinated people continue to be much more vulnerable to becoming infected and develop serious illness. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) data that just came out this week shows that you are 68 times less likely to die from COVD-19 if you are vaccinated and boosted."
Since the U.S. saw its first death from COVID-19 three years ago, the virus has killed 1,092 people in Contra Costa County.
That number is expected to grow significantly, he said, as reporting tends to be delayed.
Contra Costa's full vaccination rate is 79.7%, which helps keep hospitalization rates lower.
"However, only 46.9% of the population that's eligible to receive a booster has done so, so we have a ways to go, (on boosters)," Tzvieli said.
County health services director Anna Roth told the board the latest wave of U.S. infections is "unmatched," with 187.1 million confirmed cases the past month. To demonstrate omicron's impact, she said there have been 361 cases among county health workers so far in January. That number has fluctuated from 47 in July, to 13 in November, up to 103 in December.
She said the county has plenty of testing capacity, with same-day appointments in some cases. For testing, vaccinations, and other information, go to CCHealth.org.