Sacramento County Public Health officials on Jan. 7 updated their COVID-19 case rate numbers, which include higher rates for Elk Grove than for the rest of the county and state.

The county reported on that day that its case rate was 165.5 per 100,000 people, and that the state had a case rate of 166.3.

The average case rates for Elk Grove are divided by zip codes in the county’s report, with 95757 having a case rate of 222.5, while 177.4 was announced for 95758, and 185.4 were reported for 95624.

In sharing these figures with its residents through Facebook on Jan. 12, the city of Elk Grove staff reported that the omicron variant is having a noticeable impact on case rates, as well as hospitalizations, noting that local, general hospitalizations had nearly doubled since last week. However, intensive care unit admissions remain relatively low, according to the county.

The city staff also urged its residents to “do better” in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“Each of us has the ability and resources available to protect ourselves, those we love, and vulnerable populations,” the city stated on its Facebook page. “Wear a mask in indoor, public spaces, keep your distance from others and get vaccinated and boosted.”

Sac County orders suspension of in-person, public meetings

In response to an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant, Sacramento County on Jan. 6 issued a new health order suspending in-person, public meetings.

Public boards, councils, commissions and similar bodies can, however, conduct their meetings virtually through online platforms such as Zoom.

Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye spoke about the necessity for this order.

“The steep increase in cases and high transmissibility of the omicron variant is very concerning,” she said. “This order is necessary to protect essential government functions.”

Through this order, Sacramento County’s mask mandate will remain in effect. That order, which directs all individuals in the county to wear face coverings indoors in workplaces and public settings, has been in place since last July.

A county public health announcement stated that confirmed cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron variant, following holiday gatherings, led to the county’s unprecedented COVID-19 case rates.

While speaking to the media during a public health briefing on Jan. 6, Kasirye mentioned that the majority of the increase in the number of cases was mainly due to the omicron variant, which is the predominant strain of this virus.

“(Omicron) now accounts for 50(%) to 75% of the specimens that we are sending for whole-genome sequencing,” she said. “And definitely the holiday gatherings and the travel also contributed to the increase in cases.”

On Dec. 30, there were 1,917 new COVID-19 cases reported in Sacramento County, which is 51.3% higher than the highest episode date of the winter surge of 2020.

The county’s COVID-19 case rate reached an all-time, high-level case rate of 80.3 per 100,000 residents, on Jan. 4.

Three days later, the county reported that its case rate had risen to 101.2 cases per 100,000 people, and that one additional COVID-19-related death had occurred since the previous day.

The same Jan. 7 report notes that since the pandemic began in March 2020, 188,095 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Sacramento County, and there have been 2,565 COVID-19-related deaths in the county.

Kasirye said that the county’s number of confirmed cases had more than tripled in the past two weeks.

She added that while there had been a significant increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations during the same period, intensive care unit cases remained about the same.

“This is something that we are seeing across California, in terms of increased hospitalizations, but not the same level of increase in intensive care unit beds,” she said.

Kelly Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Cosumnes Community Services District, told the Citizen on Jan. 10 that the Cosumnes Fire Department saw a recent rise in emergency call volume and their ambulance staff also experienced extended wait times at hospital emergency rooms.

Although there has been a recent increase in the number of breakthrough cases of people who are vaccinated against COVID-19, Kasirye stressed that there is still a much higher risk for unvaccinated people.

“For unvaccinated, they have a four times higher risk of infection and 18 times higher risk of death, a 10 times higher risk of hospitalizations and 17 times higher risk of ending in an intensive care unit,” she said.

“So, we continue to ask that people who have not taken the opportunity to get vaccinated, please do so. And for those that are eligible for the booster, that they go ahead and get the booster dose.”

EG Unified changes COVID-19 exposure policy for students

Elk Grove Unified School District officials announced on Jan. 11 they changed their district’s policy on how schools deal with students who were exposed to COVID-positive individuals.

They are speeding up notifications by emailing everyone who shared a classroom with a positive case instead of having school staff individually call them.

Asymptomatic and fully vaccinated students who were exposed to a COVID-19 case can remain at school and don’t need to be tested. As for students who are asymptomatic but are not fully vaccinated with two doses, they can stay at school but they need to be tested for COVID-19 on the fifth day after their exposure.

The district stated that students who have COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home and quarantine themselves there for at least five days. They can end their isolation if they no longer have symptoms or test negative on their fifth day of isolation.

“We are closely monitoring staffing levels and have processes in place to either increase or decrease school activities as needed under pandemic conditions,” district spokesperson Xanthi Soriano said in a press statement.

For information about COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites in Sacramento County, visit www.SacCounty.gov/COVID-19.

News Editor Cameron Macdonald contributed to this story.