COVID-19 cases are down, and vaccination rates are up across San Diego County.
It’s encouraging news after a summer surge greater than last year’s, but healthcare workers are still urging the unvaccinated to get the shot, before giving the virus another chance to mutate.
“We’re seeing the numbers start to trend down,” said Joshua McCabe MSN, RN, BC-NE. He's the Director of Emergency Services at Sharp Memorial Hospital. McCabe said he has been tracking COVID-19 trends and estimates the Delta surge reached its peak about two weeks ago.
“It’s encouraging to know we have 76.1% of eligible San Diegans fully vaccinated, so that has been very helpful,” said McCabe. San Diego’s high vaccination rate has also proven to be helpful in slowing the rate of spread.
McCabe explained how he has been tracking ‘effective rate’, which he compared to ‘rate of spread’. “If a rate of 1 would mean its (COVID-19 cases) staying steady and one person is essentially giving it to one other person, in July it went up to a high of about 1.45. And then just a few weeks ago a high of 1 and now we’re at 0.8, so it means the numbers are going down,” said McCabe.
But McCabe warned that unvaccinated locals have still been driving hospitalization rates.
“Those that are unvaccinated are still very sick and linger in the ICU, sometimes for several weeks,” said McCabe.
According to county data, the hospitalization rate for those considered ‘not fully vaccinated’ is 48 times greater than those ‘fully vaccinated’. And, according to McCabe, unvaccinated people are more likely to transmit the virus too.
“Those that are unvaccinated do have higher viral load and shed more of the virus making them more contagious to others. Recent data shows the vaccinated individual who does have COVID can pass it on to someone else, but it’s for a shorter amount of time and with less viral shedding,” explained McCabe.
McCabe said he is encouraging those who haven’t been vaccinated to get the shot before it mutates, again.
If another variant doesn’t emerge, McCabe said he believes San Diego County may have reached herd immunity this summer, citing the summer surge and influx of people vaccinated.