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Lake County health officials report highest COVID-19 case rate in California

For information about how to schedule a vaccine in Sonoma County, go here.

To track coronavirus cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world, go here.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

Lake County health officials reported Wednesday the daily coronavirus case rate has reached 50 per 100,000 residents, the highest level of virus transmission in California.

The county’s infection rate far exceeds the state average and that of any other county statewide, officials said. The county’s test positivity level, the share of COVID-19 tests that are positive, is now 17.4%, a dramatic jump from 1% in mid-June.

Dr. Charlie Evans, Lake County’s acting public health officer, on Tuesday told the county supervisors that immediate action was necessary. He encouraged local residents to adhere to pandemic measures such as masking and social distancing.

But most of all, he said many more people need to get vaccinated. He said only 52% of Lake County residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated, compared to 63% statewide.

“We really have a house on fire and it’s time that we all huddle together and put that fire out,” Evans said.

The powerful delta strain of the coronavirus, along with relaxed masking rules and the state’s full reopening June 15, likely are the reasons for the dramatic spike of new infections, Lake County officials said. Two cases of the delta variant were detected in June. It’s unclear how many more delta-related infections there are in the county.

Evans said the delta variant contains 1,000 times the viral load of the original strain of the coronavirus. County officials warned local residents that the pandemic is not over and that it’s crucial more people get vaccinated and exercise preventative measures.

Throughout the public health crisis that began in March 2020, state and county public health officials have reported daily infection averages over a seven-day period with a lag of seven days. The COVID-19 transmission rate cited by Lake County officials this week is the most recent data, with no lag.

Officials said it represents the current trend of community spread of the infectious disease.

On Wednesday, Sonoma County health officials said they’re also seeing an increase in cases and transmission, though not nearly as dramatic as in Lake County.

Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, said the local daily coronavirus transmission rate stands at 9.5 new cases per 100,000 people. The county’s overall test positivity is 4.4% and in the poorest neighborhoods that figure is 5.7%.

Sonoma County health officials said that the transmission level for unvaccinated local residents is five times greater than the spread among vaccinated individuals.

Among the unvaccinated, the virus is spreading at a rate of 22 new cases per 100,000 people. That rate is 4.2 cases per 100,000 for those who are vaccinated.

Health officials in Sonoma and Lake counties said, while a small share of vaccinated people are becoming infected, their chance of ending up in the hospital with severe illness is extremely low.

During Tuesday’s Lake County Board of Supervisors meeting, Sarah Marikos, a county epidemiologist, stressed the need for residents 18 to 49 to get vaccinated. She said the majority of most new cases are occurring in this age group, of which 58% have yet to be vaccinated.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @pressreno.

For information about how to schedule a vaccine in Sonoma County, go here.

To track coronavirus cases in Sonoma County, across California, the United States and around the world, go here.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

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