January 25, 2022

Sacramento County says omicron could peak in early February; Sheriff’s office releases 200 from jails – KCRA Sacramento

Sacramento County’s public health officer said Thursday that a peak in the omicron surge is still likely to be a few weeks away with COVID-19 cases trending up and officials will be helping hospitals increase “surge capacity.” Hours later, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said that about 200 incarcerated people will be released early from the county’s two jails to help combat a spike in cases there. Dr. Olivia Kasirye said Sacramento County’s COVID-19 case rate is now three times higher than it was at last year’s peak, and is forecast to peak in late January or early February. In the meantime, cases are spiking at schools and jails and people should do their part to help others by getting vaccinated against the virus or boosted if they are eligible, Kasirye told reporters during a briefing. “As a whole, the omicron variant seems to have milder symptoms compared to other variants,” she said. “But for those who are unvaccinated and for the vulnerable or immune-compromised the impacts are still very concerning and very significant.” As of Thursday, the case rate has jumped to 201 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63 at last winter’s peak, according to the county’s dashboard. The test positivity rate soared to 42.6% last week, up from last year’s high of 5.9%. There are now 494 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, including 89 people at intensive care units, Kasirye said. She said the county was working with hospitals and the state to increase surge capacity and submit requests for staffing support.While California officials have given the green light for hospitals to bring in COVID-19-positive staffers as a last resort, county public health officials said they did not know if local health facilities had taken that step yet. UC Davis Health and Sutter Health told KCRA 3 they have not yet brought staff in under those circumstances. The California Hospital Association said in a statement that the guidance is a “last resort option, and it is unlikely that many hospitals will exercise it. Hospitals understand the safety concerns that unions, workers, and patients have about this guidance.”COVID-19 cases rising at Sacramento County jails An outbreak at the county’s two main jails is helping to drive the rise in new cases. Kasirye said the county’s main jail in downtown Sacramento now has 76 positive cases, compared to 27 cases on Jan. 5. There are also 48 positive cases at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove, up from zero for the same period. So far none have been hospitalized. The county has received “limited” oral therapeutics and those are being used at the jails to manage the outbreak, Kasirye said. “Following protocol, individuals with positive tests, close contact or new arrivals are being quarantined in one of four quarantine pods; Intake Quarantine (new arrivals), Close Contact Quarantine (exposed but no symptoms), Suspect Isolation (symptoms but pending testing) and Confirmed Cases,” the county said in a release. “Any inmate exhibiting symptoms consistent with the CDC COVID-19 symptom list are tested. Additionally, all patients exposed to the symptomatic individual are also tested.” Sgt. Rod Grassmann with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said more than 70 people at the main jail and more than 120 from Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center will be released starting Thursday afternoon, per an emergency order. Some will be released up to 90 days early. Those excluded from early release are people sentenced for domestic violence, DUI, violent crimes and also sex offenders. “We understand that the public is rightfully concerned about the people who are in the jail serving sentences and then being released early,” Grassmann said. “Again, what we have done in this process is to look at that person and their record in its totality to find people that are least likely to go out after they’ve been released because of this and offend again.”In-person learning will continue at schools despite more cases there Kasirye said cases are also rising at schools but that the county was committed to in-person learning and looking for “additional innovative ways” to provide it. Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week that the state has sent 9 million N95 masks to public schools across the state over the last few weeks. The Sacramento County Office Education confirmed Thursday that it received 62 pallets with roughly 950,000 masks from the state. “We are in the process of dividing up the shipment for distribution to local schools in Sacramento County,” spokesperson Tim Herrera said. “Each district will pick up their allotment of masks – the number determined by the state – and then get them to the students, teachers, and staff in their districts with whatever process they decide.”Dr. Kasirye makes the case for more vaccinationsMeanwhile, Kasirye warned that for people who are unvaccinated, omicron can still be a “very serious disease.”“They have up to a 17 or 18 times higher risk of ending up in the hospital and a much higher risk of death as well and complications,” she said.Kasirye said she was also concerned about children, especially those under age 5 who are not able to get vaccinated.“So for the sake of those children as well and for those that are immunocompromised that might not get the maximum benefit from vaccinations, it’s important for the rest of us to be vaccinated and provide that protection for them as well,” she said.On testing, Liz Gomez with Sacramento Public Health said that there has been a “little bit of a leveling off” on demand at the county’s sites. She also cited up to two-day processing delays for PCR tests at the state’s lab.–KCRA ‘s Orko Manna contributed to this report.

Sacramento County’s public health officer said Thursday that a peak in the omicron surge is still likely to be a few weeks away with COVID-19 cases trending up and officials will be helping hospitals increase “surge capacity.”

Hours later, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said that about 200 incarcerated people will be released early from the county’s two jails to help combat a spike in cases there.

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Dr. Olivia Kasirye said Sacramento County’s COVID-19 case rate is now three times higher than it was at last year’s peak, and is forecast to peak in late January or early February. In the meantime, cases are spiking at schools and jails and people should do their part to help others by getting vaccinated against the virus or boosted if they are eligible, Kasirye told reporters during a briefing.

“As a whole, the omicron variant seems to have milder symptoms compared to other variants,” she said. “But for those who are unvaccinated and for the vulnerable or immune-compromised the impacts are still very concerning and very significant.”

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As of Thursday, the case rate has jumped to 201 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63 at last winter’s peak, according to the county’s dashboard. The test positivity rate soared to 42.6% last week, up from last year’s high of 5.9%.

There are now 494 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, including 89 people at intensive care units, Kasirye said. She said the county was working with hospitals and the state to increase surge capacity and submit requests for staffing support.

While California officials have given the green light for hospitals to bring in COVID-19-positive staffers as a last resort, county public health officials said they did not know if local health facilities had taken that step yet.

UC Davis Health and Sutter Health told KCRA 3 they have not yet brought staff in under those circumstances.

The California Hospital Association said in a statement that the guidance is a “last resort option, and it is unlikely that many hospitals will exercise it. Hospitals understand the safety concerns that unions, workers, and patients have about this guidance.”

COVID-19 cases rising at Sacramento County jails

An outbreak at the county’s two main jails is helping to drive the rise in new cases.

Kasirye said the county’s main jail in downtown Sacramento now has 76 positive cases, compared to 27 cases on Jan. 5. There are also 48 positive cases at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove, up from zero for the same period. So far none have been hospitalized.

The county has received “limited” oral therapeutics and those are being used at the jails to manage the outbreak, Kasirye said.

“Following protocol, individuals with positive tests, close contact or new arrivals are being quarantined in one of four quarantine pods; Intake Quarantine (new arrivals), Close Contact Quarantine (exposed but no symptoms), Suspect Isolation (symptoms but pending testing) and Confirmed Cases,” the county said in a release. “Any inmate exhibiting symptoms consistent with the CDC COVID-19 symptom list are tested. Additionally, all patients exposed to the symptomatic individual are also tested.”

Sgt. Rod Grassmann with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said more than 70 people at the main jail and more than 120 from Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center will be released starting Thursday afternoon, per an emergency order. Some will be released up to 90 days early.

Those excluded from early release are people sentenced for domestic violence, DUI, violent crimes and also sex offenders.

“We understand that the public is rightfully concerned about the people who are in the jail serving sentences and then being released early,” Grassmann said. “Again, what we have done in this process is to look at that person and their record in its totality to find people that are least likely to go out after they’ve been released because of this and offend again.”

In-person learning will continue at schools despite more cases there

Kasirye said cases are also rising at schools but that the county was committed to in-person learning and looking for “additional innovative ways” to provide it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week that the state has sent 9 million N95 masks to public schools across the state over the last few weeks. The Sacramento County Office Education confirmed Thursday that it received 62 pallets with roughly 950,000 masks from the state.

“We are in the process of dividing up the shipment for distribution to local schools in Sacramento County,” spokesperson Tim Herrera said. “Each district will pick up their allotment of masks – the number determined by the state – and then get them to the students, teachers, and staff in their districts with whatever process they decide.”

Dr. Kasirye makes the case for more vaccinations

Meanwhile, Kasirye warned that for people who are unvaccinated, omicron can still be a “very serious disease.”

“They have up to a 17 or 18 times higher risk of ending up in the hospital and a much higher risk of death as well and complications,” she said.

Kasirye said she was also concerned about children, especially those under age 5 who are not able to get vaccinated.

“So for the sake of those children as well and for those that are immunocompromised that might not get the maximum benefit from vaccinations, it’s important for the rest of us to be vaccinated and provide that protection for them as well,” she said.

On testing, Liz Gomez with Sacramento Public Health said that there has been a “little bit of a leveling off” on demand at the county’s sites. She also cited up to two-day processing delays for PCR tests at the state’s lab.

–KCRA ‘s Orko Manna contributed to this report.

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