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Yolo County has highest COVID-19 testing rate in California, says health officer

Yolo County's current case rate is 171 cases per 100,000 residents per day. The state case rate is 232 per 100,000.

YOLO COUNTY, Calif — While she finds some relief in seeing the average vaccinated person catching COVID-19 experiences milder symptoms, Yolo County Public Health Officer Aimee Sisson said we're not out of the woods yet.

As county public health identified positive case rates more than double the same time last year, Sisson said Yolo County has the highest testing rate in California.

Hospitals and healthcare have potential of overcrowding because of how many people are unvaccinated coupled with people showing up to the emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms. 

"I would say we are currently very challenged by the pandemic and omicron variant," Sisson said in a Friday live UC Davis panel. "We have unprecedented levels of virus transmissions and cases."

There are a few other COVID-19 developments in and around Yolo County, based on her hour-long Zoom panel.

'Unprecedented levels of virus transmission and cases':

  • The omicron variant is increasing transmission rates in vaccinated people, and they should continue masking with social distancing.
  • There have been 104 COVID-19 related deaths in Yolo County since vaccines became available —  but only 17 were fully vaccinated.
  • Unvaccinated people are 21x more likely to die of COVID-19 complications, 8x more likely to end up in the hospital and 4x more likely to get infected compared to fully vaccinated people, according to Sisson.

Testing for COVID-19:

  • Yolo County's current case rate is 171 cases per 100,000 residents per day, more than twice the amount of the previous case peak — almost exactly one year ago. The state case rate is 232 per 100,000.
  • A shortage of home antigen and PCR tests because of supply chain issues is causing the county trouble in meeting resident demand for testing.
  • The one testing center Yolo County helps coordinate is an OptumServe site in Woodland — which county officials are requesting the state increase its working hours to expand the appointment availability.
  • Monoclonal antibody clinics with the amount of antibodies Yolo County has on hand, would not be enough to be effective against an omicron variant outbreak — with only about 24 antibodies delivered to them every week.
  • According to the UC Davis Genome Center, 98% of specimens they genotyped were tests coming back positive for omicron.

COVID-19 pills and other medication:

Sisson said the county has two types of anti-viral pills to treat COVID-19 symptoms, but only insignificantly low supply.

  • Pfizer's PAXLOVID pill is 90% effective in keeping people who take the medication within five days of being infected out of the hospital — but they only have 60 pill courses for prescribed patients, with five currently on hand and 40 on the way.

For the full UC Davis Friday panel, which also included Professor of Epidemiology Lorena Garcia, watch more here:

UC Davis LIVE: Update on the Pandemic and Omicron

It's the beginning of 2022, and it feels like we’ve been here before as a new coronavirus variant, #Omicron, rapidly spreads through the population. We have more knowledge about the virus and new tools such as vaccines and treatments that we didn’t have this time last year – but we also have a new and highly infectious variant. Join the conversation and ask your questions to our guest experts on this episode of #UCDavisLIVE: Update on the Pandemic and Omicron Joining us to discuss the state of the pandemic are two experts: - As Public Health Officer for Yolo County, Dr Aimee Sisson has been leading local efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic. She was previously Public Health Officer for Placer County and served as a Public Health Medical Officer at the California Department of Public Health for over 10 years. - Lorena Garcia is a Professor of Epidemiology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Chair of the Graduate Group in Epidemiology. Her research focuses on health disparities and social determinants of health.

Posted by UC Davis on Friday, January 14, 2022

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to provide more context in regards to case rates.

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