News

Upgrade to yellow tier still unlikely until early May in San Mateo, Santa Clara counties

Health officials say residents must continue taking COVID-19 tests, receive vaccines to avoid setback

Papers in the front of San Agus Cocina Urbana & Cocktails show the restaurant is taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Palo Alto on Dec. 3, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are approaching lower COVID-19 infection rates that could move them into the most lenient yellow tier for opening the economy under state COVID-19 guidelines by the beginning of May at the earliest.

Much of that continued forward momentum is contingent on the availability of vaccines, continued public involvement in testing for the virus and buy-in to being vaccinated, county officials said.

San Mateo County's COVID-19 positivity rate is about 0.9% overall and 1.4% in the state's lowest Healthy Places Index census tracts, which tracks community health and poverty, county Chief of Health Louise Rogers told the Board of Supervisors. Counties' positivity rates must remain below 1% in combination with other factors for three weeks before moving into the next least-restrictive tier.

Santa Clara County, which has hit yellow tier numbers at times, saw a slight rise in its overall positivity rate from below 1% to 1.2% in the past two weeks, COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said during his county's Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The counties still face multiple challenges. Health officers remain watchful as infection rates rise in some other states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, Colorado and Illinois, in addition to New England states. Both counties continue to face precarious vaccine supplies, waning public interest in being tested for the virus and some public hesitancy in getting the vaccine.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Join

About 58% of Santa Clara County residents and 63.2% of San Mateo County residents ages 16 and up have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said.

In Santa Clara County, Fenstersheib said testing for the virus has gone up "slightly" after a significant decline. In a mid-April statement, he said testing was down 34% from two months ago. Some of the current rise is likely due to Stanford University testing faculty and students regularly, he added on Tuesday.

In San Mateo County, the number of people being tested for the virus has declined by 10% since Rogers' last report four weeks ago, she said.

Testing remains an important way to track how the virus — and its more contagious emerging variants — are spreading in communities, Rogers said. And although the majority of adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose, she cautioned against complacency.

COVID-19 testing should continue until the county has reached its 90% goal of all residents being vaccinated —and until the science can fully explain the duration and efficacy of the vaccines, she added. People who have been vaccinated can still acquire and transmit the disease. Even if one has already been vaccinated, it's important to be tested if they show any symptoms, she said.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up for free

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up for free

In both counties, availability of vaccines continues to be uncertain. San Mateo County's supplies from the state have decreased by one-third in the past few weeks, said Dr. Anand Chabra, the county's COVID-19 mass vaccination section chief. The vaccination supply has also been complicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. Also known as the Janssen vaccine, it has been suspected in blood clots in six women ages 18 to 48, with one death, he said. The county health care system received just 11,080 doses last week, which does not include doses at providers such as Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and pharmacies, he added.

Fenstersheib said Santa Clara County's allotment of 300,000 doses through the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), which it received on April 13, enabled vaccinating 40,000 people on April 15, with a seven-day average of 27,000 vaccinations administered per day. The county is currently in discussions with the HRSA to receive a commensurate number of second doses, County Executive Jeff Smith said. He cautioned the county doesn't know if the supplies will fall off in the coming weeks if relying only on state-issued allotments.

Vaccine hesitancy is also a concern, both county officials said. During Santa Clara County's door-to-door outreach program in census tracts hardest hit by the virus, 8% of those canvassed said they won't or are now hesitant to have the vaccine. Most who expressed reticence were young people, said Brain Darrow, a program manager in the County Executive's Office. He posited that with 76.1% of people in the most vulnerable age group of 65 and older having received at least one vaccine dose, some younger residents are feeling less of an impetus.

Rogers of San Mateo County summed up the sentiment the health officers want to convey to the public. While much progress has been made, there are still many variables that could reverse the forward momentum. It's still a race to get everyone vaccinated before a variant emerges that is resistant to the vaccine or is much more deadly.

"Forty percent of adult residents need to be vaccinated. We still have a long way to go," she said.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Upgrade to yellow tier still unlikely until early May in San Mateo, Santa Clara counties

Health officials say residents must continue taking COVID-19 tests, receive vaccines to avoid setback

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Apr 21, 2021, 9:36 am

San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are approaching lower COVID-19 infection rates that could move them into the most lenient yellow tier for opening the economy under state COVID-19 guidelines by the beginning of May at the earliest.

Much of that continued forward momentum is contingent on the availability of vaccines, continued public involvement in testing for the virus and buy-in to being vaccinated, county officials said.

San Mateo County's COVID-19 positivity rate is about 0.9% overall and 1.4% in the state's lowest Healthy Places Index census tracts, which tracks community health and poverty, county Chief of Health Louise Rogers told the Board of Supervisors. Counties' positivity rates must remain below 1% in combination with other factors for three weeks before moving into the next least-restrictive tier.

Santa Clara County, which has hit yellow tier numbers at times, saw a slight rise in its overall positivity rate from below 1% to 1.2% in the past two weeks, COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said during his county's Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The counties still face multiple challenges. Health officers remain watchful as infection rates rise in some other states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, Colorado and Illinois, in addition to New England states. Both counties continue to face precarious vaccine supplies, waning public interest in being tested for the virus and some public hesitancy in getting the vaccine.

About 58% of Santa Clara County residents and 63.2% of San Mateo County residents ages 16 and up have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said.

In Santa Clara County, Fenstersheib said testing for the virus has gone up "slightly" after a significant decline. In a mid-April statement, he said testing was down 34% from two months ago. Some of the current rise is likely due to Stanford University testing faculty and students regularly, he added on Tuesday.

In San Mateo County, the number of people being tested for the virus has declined by 10% since Rogers' last report four weeks ago, she said.

Testing remains an important way to track how the virus — and its more contagious emerging variants — are spreading in communities, Rogers said. And although the majority of adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose, she cautioned against complacency.

COVID-19 testing should continue until the county has reached its 90% goal of all residents being vaccinated —and until the science can fully explain the duration and efficacy of the vaccines, she added. People who have been vaccinated can still acquire and transmit the disease. Even if one has already been vaccinated, it's important to be tested if they show any symptoms, she said.

In both counties, availability of vaccines continues to be uncertain. San Mateo County's supplies from the state have decreased by one-third in the past few weeks, said Dr. Anand Chabra, the county's COVID-19 mass vaccination section chief. The vaccination supply has also been complicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. Also known as the Janssen vaccine, it has been suspected in blood clots in six women ages 18 to 48, with one death, he said. The county health care system received just 11,080 doses last week, which does not include doses at providers such as Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and pharmacies, he added.

Fenstersheib said Santa Clara County's allotment of 300,000 doses through the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), which it received on April 13, enabled vaccinating 40,000 people on April 15, with a seven-day average of 27,000 vaccinations administered per day. The county is currently in discussions with the HRSA to receive a commensurate number of second doses, County Executive Jeff Smith said. He cautioned the county doesn't know if the supplies will fall off in the coming weeks if relying only on state-issued allotments.

Vaccine hesitancy is also a concern, both county officials said. During Santa Clara County's door-to-door outreach program in census tracts hardest hit by the virus, 8% of those canvassed said they won't or are now hesitant to have the vaccine. Most who expressed reticence were young people, said Brain Darrow, a program manager in the County Executive's Office. He posited that with 76.1% of people in the most vulnerable age group of 65 and older having received at least one vaccine dose, some younger residents are feeling less of an impetus.

Rogers of San Mateo County summed up the sentiment the health officers want to convey to the public. While much progress has been made, there are still many variables that could reverse the forward momentum. It's still a race to get everyone vaccinated before a variant emerges that is resistant to the vaccine or is much more deadly.

"Forty percent of adult residents need to be vaccinated. We still have a long way to go," she said.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm

Do we know how this data about vaccines and also about testing is being collected and collated?

In my circle, people have been driving two hours for both. Just because a certain county is administering doses, these are not to residents of that county only. Certain counties have been more strict than others. Some counties have been allowing those 16+ to get shots but only if resident in that county.

As with testing, the test centers have been testing across county borders.

The question then is what government agency is counting these vaccinated individuals? How and where is the information stored?

And my last question has to be whether we should be worried about this data being stored about us? We may need vaccine passports to travel internationally. The Canadian border is still closed. The Mexican border is not. France is already issuing travel guidelines requesting visitors to be able to show vaccine passports or negative tests.

Will this type of information remain with us for 2 years, for 5 years, for 10 years? Will this type of information become the norm? What other type of health information will be required for travel in the future?


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 21, 2021 at 9:43 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 21, 2021 at 9:43 pm

Vaccine hesitancy is also a concern, both county officials said/Most who expressed reticence were young people

I’m going to spell this all out for those that are vaccine hesitant. The world has irrevocably changed. There will now be two groups of people, those that are vaccinated, and those that are unvaccinated. The virus will find its way to any pocket of unvaccinated people. We are in a global pandemic with the threat of new and deadlier variants emerging at all times until the pandemic is controlled globally. You may think you are safe because of our local situation, but since everyone is all in to traveling nowadays, anyone traveling may bring back a variant and start a local spread. This pattern will not stop until most of the entire world gets vaccinated. Unless you want to walk around in a mask until like 2027, you need to get these shots and have a level of protection. I saw some kids that were like 5 years old on the news that took the shot in a trial group. It’s time for the adults to toughen up, take the shot to not only protect themselves, but protect others as well.
As a side note, I am very concerned about the Coronavirus turning into a young person’s disease once everyone that is 16 and over gets vaccinated as there is not a vaccine ready for the 15 year old and younger group yet. Although, this age group is statistically unlikely to die, they could get Covid and end up suffering long Covid symptoms.
As far as changing to yellow tier from orange, let’s proceed slowly. Every time we open up too quickly there is an outbreak. Newsom dropping the color coded tier system in June is a little premature. The pandemic will be better unless there is a new deadlier variant, but where there are many pockets of people who choose to not be vaccinated, there will be outbreaks. In my opinion, I don’t feel Americans will have very low probability of catching the Coronavirus until January 2022. Historically, most pandemics last about 2 years.


Roy M
Registered user
Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2021 at 9:43 am
Roy M, Downtown North
Registered user
on Apr 22, 2021 at 9:43 am

@Voice. I share your concern about the under 16 crowd. Fortunately, there is a good chance that Pfizer will be approved for use for the 12-15 age group in the next few weeks so it looks like kids that age will be able to get vaccinated over the summer, but the 5-11 cohort will be longer, December being the most optimistic guess.

I am more optimistic than you about the overall threat level and the relaxing of restrictions. I tend to look at what is going on in Israel as the forward looking indicator for us. Over half of their population is fully vaccinated (81% of the 16 and older population). They have dropped outdoor mask mandates, they have fully reopened schools, and they allow access to bars, restaurants, etc to people with a "green pass" that shows they have either been vaccinated or recovered from COVID. Note that they still require masks in indoor spaces. Their cases are down to the low hundreds per day out of a population of 9 million.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2021 at 10:24 am
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 22, 2021 at 10:24 am

@Roy
I’m not saying your Israel comparison is wrong or that my more pessimistic view is the correct one. I only worry that comparing Israel’s reopening success to the United States might end up being a false comparison because of the lower population size of Israel which would allow them to possibly reach a herd immunity threshold easier than us here in the U.S. (Israel population about 9 million/U.S. about 330,000,000 million)

Also, I am sure most, if not all, Israel adults just got vaccinated without a problem. We have people in this country who actually believe things like the vaccine contains a microchip so that the Government can track them. These people refusing to get vaccinated will set back herd immunity in the United States as we can’t have large amounts of unvaccinated people trying to piggy back off those who are vaccinated for us to reach herd immunity.

Correct about the vaccine for 12-15 age range. My concern is that I don’t want what happened with the adults to happen to the children. When the older Americans over 65 were mostly all vaccinated their hospitalizations and deaths dropped significantly, but next came an increase in hospitalizations of the unvaccinated age group of 40-60. I don’t want this trend to hit the youngest children under 16 and then under 12 as the one year to 11 year olds will eventually be the only unvaccinated group. I’m hoping the virus somehow burns out instead if mostly everyone else is vaccinated.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.