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COVID hospitalizations and outbreak rose in late June, Shasta County Public Health announced on Tuesday.
On Monday, the number of COVID patients in local hospitals reached 25, according to county Public Health data. That's more than twice what they were almost every other day in June, and three times what they were throughout most of May and April.
The number of people sick enough to enter intensive care units climbed last week, too, but stayed below five per day, according to the data.
Case numbers are difficult to track because few people report home test results.
Outbreak in the county reached what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider high, the California Department of Public Health reported.
The percentage of tests that come back positive from state labs is going up:
From June 21 to 27, Shasta County's test positivity rate went up to 7.6%.
From June 7 to 13, it was less than half that: 3.8%.
There was good news. Public Health reported no new COVID deaths since June 13.
Public Health asked people to take precautions during the Fourth of July weekend, and get tested for COVID no more than three days before they travel or gather with family or friends.
For more information about taking precautions while on holiday see the California Department of Public Health fact sheet at bit.ly/3OwsMVZ.
1 new death reported; hospitalizations still trending downward
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
A Shasta County woman in her 80s died of COVID, Public Health confirmed this week.
She is the 656th Shasta County residents who has succumbed to COVID since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Public Health does not release the date that county residents die to protect their family's privacy; the agency only reports a death after it has confirmed the cause was related to the virus.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID crept up this month over May, according to county Public Health data. Ten or more people were hospitalized with COVID daily during most of the first two weeks of June. There were two days in May that daily numbers reached 10 or more.
But hospitalizations this month are lower than they were a year ago. Throughout most of June 2021, daily COVID patients at Shasta County hospitals numbered in the upper teens.
Another bit of good news: COVID is sending fewer people into intensive care units. Each day from June 1 to 13, two or fewer patients were sick enough with COVID to land in the ICU. In June 2021, the daily number was four to six ICU patients.
Dropping hospitalizations are a nationwide trend, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"As we head into summer, many people are at much lower risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 because of increased immunity through vaccination or previous infection," the CDC said on June 10.
That's because 70% of the U.S. population ages 5 years and older is fully vaccinated, meaning people received either the one-shot Johnson & Johnson brand vaccine or had both of a two-dose vaccine series, the CDC said.
Another reason the virus isn't hitting people as hard overall as it was a year ago is COVID treatments are now widely available, the CDC said.
Local and national health experts still recommend people protect themselves and others from COVID, especially those who are at increased risk for severe illness like the elderly. Public Health recommends people wear masks in indoor public places and stay home if they feel sick.
For more information go to the county's COVID website at bit.ly/39pXf8T.
May COVID-19 deaths lowest in 2022
Thursday, June 8, 2022
The number of people who died of COVID-19 in May was the lowest of any month in two years, according to Shasta County Public Health.
Public Health reported only one person died of COVID-19 in May.
The last month COVID-19 deaths were that low was May 2020. Public Health confirmed no COVID-19 deaths that month. At that time, people were told to stay home as much as possible, and restaurants closed for indoor dining. Countries closed their borders, and governments had masking and social distancing mandates in place.
Shasta County Public Health is still investigating some deaths, so it's possible May's total could rise, but an overall drop each month in spring was a welcome trend.
COVID deaths in January: 38
COVID deaths in February: 54
COVID deaths in March: 26
COVID deaths in April: 3
COVID deaths in May: 1
COVID-19 case numbers are likely higher because at-home test results are seldom reported, Public Health said, but data available shows the virus continues to kill more older people than their younger counterparts who get sick.
According to Shasta County Public Health data, 72% of COVID-19 cases reported were in people ages 54 and younger. However, 76% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 91% of COVID-19 deaths were people ages 55 and older.
While case numbers spiked off and on in 2021 and 2022, the overall number of people killed by COVID-19 is dropping worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
On April 26, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said COVID-19 deaths were at their lowest number worldwide since March 2020.
Researchers credit COVID-19 vaccines in part for reducing the impact COVID-19 has on those fully vaccinated.
In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, researchers found COVID-19 vaccines may have prevented as many as 139,393 deaths in the United States from the time they were introduced in December 2020 until May 9, 2021.
"This is a very welcome trend, but it’s one that we must welcome with some caution," Ghebreyesus said. "It (COVID) is still spreading, it’s still changing and it’s still killing."
Two die of COVID, May ends with higher hospitalizations
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Shasta County Public Health reported Wednesday two more people died of COVID.
They were a woman in her 60s and a man age 90 or older.
Including their deaths, 655 Shasta County residents died from the virus.
The number of deaths reported by Public Health in May was the second lowest of any month in 2022:
January: 35 deaths reported
February: 32 deaths reported
March: 52 deaths reported
April: 17 deaths reported
May: 26 deaths reported (These were confirmed in May. Most occured earlier.)
While state and county health agencies reported COVID spread went up overall in May, outbreak never reached levels the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider widespread.
However, data doesn't include at-home test results. These are seldom reported to the state, Public Health said.
During the second half of May, the county's test positivity rate — the percentage of COVID tests sent to state labs that came back positive for the virus — was 2.9% to 3%, according to state public health data. That's double what it was at the beginning of May: 1.4%
But Shasta County's worst percentages were less than half of California's statewide positivity rate on Tuesday. The latter reached 7.9%.
Anything below 5% is considered low outbreak, Shasta County Public Health said.
Hospitalizations also climbed in late May. Between May 24 and Tuesday, the number of people hospitalized with COVID averaged nine to 10 patients per day — compared to seven to eight patients per day from May 17 to 23.
Of those patients, fewer than half were sick enough to end up in intensive care units, according to Public Health.
People who test positive can get immediate treatment
Public Health announced Wednesday people who test positive for COVID with a rapid test can get treated immediately.
The agency opened a Test To Treat program at its testing site at 2420 Breslauer Way in Redding. Anyone who tests positive and is a candidate for standard treatments can get a prescription from an on-site health care provider. They can also have that prescription filled on site.
The testing site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
To make an appointment go to lhi.care/covidtesting.
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.
This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: COVID-19 hospitalizations go up week before July 4th