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Supervisors hear about COVID-19 vaccine plans, concerns about spike in cases

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 A Ventura County task force is “looking at how” a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive and be “injected into people’s arms,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

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He and Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas warned about the alarming uptick of COVID-19 cases in Ventura County, which they are largely attributing to unauthorized gatherings that they are trying to clamp down on through social-host ordinances, fines and other means.

Delivering the next COVID-19 update at a Thursday, Nov. 12, press conference from 1 to 2 p.m. will be Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas, Supervisor Kelly Long and County CEO Mike Powers. The weekly county government press conferences on COVID-19 are usually on Wednesday, but Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, so the press conference will be held Nov. 12. To watch it livestreamed from the Ventura County Fairgrounds, visit https://vimeo.com/event/322828

For up-to-date COVID-19 reports in Ventura County, visit www.venturacountyrecovers.org.

“We are no longer reading the news, we are making the news,” Levin said, explaining that county residents “need to take personal responsibility” to do a better job social distancing to cut down the opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.

"Cancel or avoid gatherings this week," Vargas said, noting that lowering the transmission of the coronavirus is vital to businesses staying open and children staying in school.

The increased transmission means that Ventura County could revert from its current red tier to its most-restrictive purple tier as early as Nov. 24, just two days before Thanksgiving. That would result in more restrictions on businesses and will likely mean that schools that have not yet reopened in the current red tier will be unable to open if the county reverts to the purple tier.

Schools that have already reopened their in-person classes will not have to close them again if they are already open, Vargas explained.

One way to improve Ventura County's ability to stay in the red tier is for more people to get tested at the 14 free testing sites throughout Ventura County, officials stressed, noting there is little to no wait time for the quick and painless test, which involves a swabbing of the nose with a Q-tip. They also said testing results are available now within 24 to 48 hours.

A total of 339 new COVID-19 cases were reported over the weekend. In addition, two men, ages 66 and 82, were reported to have died with COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 in Ventura County to 171 since March. Both were reported by Public Health to have underlying health conditions.

 As of Nov. 9, 42 county residents were reported in the hospital, with seven of them in intensive care units.

Last week, there were 638 total cases reported compared with the lower numbers the week of Oct. 30 with 390 cases; the week of Oct. 23 with 423 cases; and the week of Oct. 16 with 334 cases. The last time there was a higher weekly reported case count was on Aug. 28 with 651 cases. 

Levin said it is good news that 11 COVID-19 vaccines are in late-stage trials with the news reported Nov. 9 that Pfizer has a vaccine that is 90% effective in Phase 3 trials.

Challenges with the vaccines are that they will require subzero temperature storage and that most require two injections given three weeks apart.

He explained that a Ventura County task force is working on vaccine preparation, logistics, supplies and protocols.

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