COVID numbers high, but falling

Over the past couple of months, the number of COVID-19 cases in Madera County has steadily risen.


However, Madera County Department of Public Health Director Sara Bosse is starting to see the numbers fall and hopes more residents continue to get vaccinated.


Last week, Madera County passed the 50 percent threshold of vaccinated citizens, however the number of hospitalizations is still high.


“A large percentage of them are unvaccinated versus vaccinated,” Bosse said. “Our hospitals are very impacted. At this point, it is starting to ease up a little bit. Unfortunately, many people who are hospitalized due to COVID stay in the hospital for a long time. Hospitalization numbers do not come down very quickly. Case rates are in the process of coming down, however the case rates in the Central Valley are not coming down as quickly as other areas of the state.”


While the vaccinations are more than 90 percent effective, Bosse says that there can be cases of COVID among vaccinated.


“There can be breakthrough cases among individuals who have been vaccinated. Because it’s not 100 percent effective, vaccinated individuals will have about a 10 percent chance of getting COVID,” Bosse said. “Most of those individuals don’t have severe symptoms. Those who have been vaccinated and get hospitalized are typically over 65 or have significant underlying conditions.”


It is because of these conditions that the national Center for Disease Control has recommended some vaccinated individuals to get a third “booster” shot.


“That’s why they are looking at the third dose because there are these breakthrough cases,” Bosse said. “The same high-risk groups eligible for the third dose, if they have a breakthrough case, are the ones who may get hospitalized.”


Bosse says that CDC recommends a third dose for those who are 65 years older, 18 years and older with underlying health issues, or those in high-risk occupations.


Another group are those who are immune compromised.


“That group has been eligible for a significant period of time,” Bosse said. “If they received the Pfizer or Moderna in the past, they can visit their health care provider and they can receive a third dose of the same vaccine.


“Everyone else, it’s a booster based on CDC recommendations. It’s important to understand that it’s only for individuals that received their second Pfizer vaccination at least 6 months ago. That’s the only one approved right now. We do expect approval for Moderna and, potentially, Johnson and Johnson in the next few weeks.”


Bosse said the reason for a third dose is there is evidence that shows the level of antibodies in a person’s system wanes over time.


“That’s why the CDC is recommending a third dose,” she said.


Another way the MCDPH is fighting COVID-19 is teaming with Madera Community Hospital to increase monoclonal antibody treatment.


“We want people who are at high-risk who have symptoms to get tested right away,” Bosse said. “If we can catch it early in the illness, they are a good candidate for monoclonal antibody treatment. It’s a one-time IV treatment that’s performed at the hospital. If their own body doesn’t have a lot of antibodies because they may have a weaker immune system or weren’t vaccinated, the hospital can give them the antibodies. It keeps most people out of the hospital if they can get that treatment early, in the first 10 days before symptoms get serious.”


With more options available for individuals to fight the COVID-19 disease, Bosse hopes the case numbers will significantly drop in the near future.


“Get vaccinated. That’s the No. 1 thing to do,” she said. “If you are going to be in a crowded place, it’s a good idea to wear a mask. Those unvaccinated should wear masks all the time while in public.”