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CoCo County sees drop in COVID-19 deaths after officials adjust response

PIX Now 09:40

MARTINEZ (CBS SF/BCN) – Contra Costa County health officials say COVID-19 numbers have been declining, with deaths, case numbers and presence of the virus in county wastewater dropping in recent weeks. 

No COVID-19 related deaths have been reported yet in September, down from 22 in August, according to the county's COVID-19 data summary on the Contra Costa Health Services website. 

Hospitalizations have hit a plateau, with a daily average of 61 patients countywide over the past two weeks, slightly up from 59 the two weeks prior.

County tests the past two weeks are turning up 6.82% positive. That number was 8.64% in the previous two weeks. 

The wastewater concentration of COVID-19 in Contra Costa County is at about 0.00054 in the past two weeks, down from 0.00087 the previous two weeks.

Contra Costa Health Services officials told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday it's adjusting its COVID-19 response, beginning Oct. 1, when it will stop testing at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, though vaccinations will continue at the site. The county will also close its San Ramon testing site Oct. 1.

County health director Anna Roth said that though the public health emergency will likely be lifted in early 2023, her department anticipates new variants of COVID-19 and new vaccines to counter them. She said, at this point, the county health department has federal American Rescue Plan Act funds until June 2023.

"The dates are driven by the public health emergency and how it takes shape," Roth said. 

County health officer Dr. Ori Tzvieli told the board the county is administering the new booster, which is available eight weeks after someone got their last booster. He also said anyone who had COVID-19 as recently as this summer should still get boosted.

He said with the new vaccination, it doesn't matter whether you previously had the Pfizer or Moderna shot.

"We recommend getting the one you can get first and get that extra measure of protection as soon as you can," Tzvieli said.  

Roth also detailed how busy her department was in 2021. She said in 2019, CCHS provided service to less than 25% of county residents. During the pandemic year of 2021, that number jumped to about 66 percent -- about 700,000 people. 

Compared to other U.S. counties on average, when scaled for size, CCHS efforts resulted in 1,700 fewer COVID-19 deaths, 71,000 fewer cases, 300,000 more tests given, and 390,000 more vaccinations. The county's bilingual COVID-19 website had about 8.6 million pageviews.  

"We did have one of the most effective responses in the nation.," Roth said.  

The county also eliminated the disparity between white and Latinx communities that existed at the beginning of the pandemic, and 75% of the disparity between the white and the African American community.  

For more information, go to the CCHS website.

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