New COVID-19 cases in Sonoma County in decline but January deaths continue
Sonoma County health officials have reported eight COVID-19 deaths since Friday, bringing the total number of pandemic fatalities to 445, even as the rate of virus transmission continues to decline from what was likely the peak of the winter surge in mid-January.
On Monday, health officials reported the latest two deaths: a vaccinated man between 70 and 80 who died at home on Jan. 18; and an unvaccinated woman between 70 and 80 who died at home on Jan. 22. Both had underlying health conditions, officials said.
On Friday, officials reported three COVID-19 deaths, including a vaccinated woman between 80 and 90 who died Dec. 28; a vaccinated man between 90 and 100 who died Jan. 16; and an unvaccinated woman between 70 and 80 who died Jan. 19. All three had been hospitalized and had underlying health issues.
Health officials had warned that the dramatic winter surge in cases, driven by the omicron variant discovered in late December, would likely lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
Since Jan. 18, an average of 105 people have been hospitalized in Sonoma County with COVID-19 — both those who are being treated for COVID-19 illness and those in the hospital for something else but “incidentally” tested positive for the virus.
But there is good news. Health officials said Monday that new cases are declining and the most recent declines in reported cases will likely be reflected in the county’s COVID-19 statistics next week. The county uses seven day averages with a seven day lag.
Reported cases have decreased substantially since Jan. 28, when 1,032 new cases were reported. On Jan. 29 and 30, officials reported 815 and 605 new cases, respectively.
Kathryn Pack, health program manager for the county’s epidemiology team, said only about 300 cases were expected to be reported Monday night. “We are starting to see decreases in hospitalizations, as well,” Pack said in an email.
Pack said there are currently 94 COVID-19 positive patients in local hospitals, with 12 of them in intensive care. “The percentage of ICU patients who are COVID-19 positive has dropped below 30% again,” she said.
Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley, said hospitalizations in most Bay Area counties have started to decline, and deaths, which lag hospitalizations by about two weeks, could begin declining sometime in mid-February.
“We’re currently going in the right direction and my March 1, I think we’re going to be much more optimistic about how things are,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @pressreno.