First COVID-19 deaths of the year reported in Sonoma County
Sonoma County health officials this week reported three new COVID-19 deaths, the first of the new year, bringing the fatality toll to 535 for the nearly three-year pandemic.
The three deaths stand in stark contrast to the two previous January pandemic death tolls. The virus claimed 68 lives in Sonoma County in January 2021 and 39 in January 2022.
But health officials cautioned that the reporting of COVID-19 deaths often lags by several weeks, and it will be some time before an assessment can be made.
“It is still too early to assess this. We will not be able to comment on January numbers until mid-February,” said Kathryn Pack, health program manager for the county’s epidemiology team.
Even as the pandemic wanes, the three COVID-19 fatalities reflect the ongoing vulnerability of the county’s most vulnerable residents — the oldest, those with compromised immune systems and people with chronic health issues.
The deaths involved an unvaccinated woman between 55 and 65 who died Jan. 7 after being hospitalized; an unvaccinated man between 85 and 95 who died Jan. 12 after being hospitalized; and a fully-vaccinated and boosted man between 90 and 100 who died Jan. 13.
All three had underlying health conditions, officials said.
The COVID-19 “community level,” as determined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is currently low. The health indicators used to determine virus community levels take into account new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the share of hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients and COVID-19 case rates.
Because of the dramatic decrease in COVID-19 PCR testing, case rates alone no longer provide an accurate picture of virus transmission. Even so, test positivity (the share of official COVID-19 tests that turn up positive) continues to remain low, at 5.2%.
That’s down significantly since Dec. 27, when test positivity peaked at 13.5%. The greatest test positivity was reached last year on Jan. 17, when 22.5% of all COVID-19 tests taken were positive.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or email@example.com. On Twitter @pressreno.
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