Daily new virus cases fall to pre-surge levels

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The county reached an important milestone on Monday when its case rate dropped to a level not seen since before the winter surge began in late November. However, more people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than in December and more than 100 die every day on average.

“The seven-day average number of cases by episode date has decreased to less than 900 per day as of February 23,” public health said in a statement.

As cases decrease, the average number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 declines as well, although the county is not back to pre-surge hospitalization levels. In early November there were approximately 800 daily hospitalizations, and now that average is 1,500. As of Wednesday, there are 1,476 people currently hospitalized, 31 percent of whom are in the ICU. 

While the seven-day average of daily deaths continues to drop, far too many county residents continue to die from COVID-19. On January 13, the average peaked at 254 deaths, and on Wednesday the county reported 116 deaths. While this is a significant improvement, in early November there were just 14 average daily deaths.

“It is our hope that as hospitalizations decrease, we will witness fewer people dying,” health official said.

“Hope is on the horizon. In a few short months millions will have been vaccinated,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said during a news conference on Monday. “However the reality is that COVID is still here.”

The top news for the county continues to be the coronavirus vaccine and its slow, somewhat muddled rollout. The main culprit in this continues to be supply of doses, with more than 500,000 available appointment spots in the county on a weekly basis, yet just 260,000 doses.

The situation could improve soon with the approval of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which county health officials said is 100 percent effective at preventing death. Public health is particularly focused on administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to transient communities or anyone who would have a tough time following up on the second inoculation required in the two other approved vaccines.

More good news came this week when President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help to produce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

State health officials announced Wednesday that they would shift 40 percent of the available vaccine doses to residents in disadvantaged areas, many of which have been hard hit by the pandemic. Once approximately 400,000 additional people are vaccinated in theses towns and neighborhoods, the governor’s office is prepared to allow more counties to shift from the most restrictive purple tier of California’s recovery plan. This will include many Southern California counties including Los Angeles.

The county reports just eight new cases in Claremont over the past week, for a cumulative total of 2,226. For the first time in months the county recorded no new deaths in Claremont over the last seven days, so the total during the pandemic remains at 53.

Public health reports 7,295 Claremont residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 23.1 percent of the total population. This total does not include unincorporated areas of Claremont where 81 people have been vaccinated or Padua Hills with 41.


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