It’s time to end the health emergency, according to public health

Public Health recommends that Stanislaus County end the local health emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to decline.

According to the Stanislaus County Public Health Department, the county is recovering from the Omicron surge, with COVID‐19 cases decreasing and COVID‐19 hospitalizations also decreasing, easing pressure on local hospitals.

“While the pandemic is not over, the emergency phase of the pandemic is fading. As such, Stanislaus County Public Health recommends the Board of Supervisors discontinue the declaration of a local health emergency,” the department said in a press release Friday.

The Supervisory Board is expected to review the recommendation at its March 8 meeting.

Despite the recommendation, the health department said rescinding the health emergency declaration does not mean the end of the potential threat COVID-19 poses to the community.

“Public Health strongly recommends that members of the community continue to follow all federal, state and local recommendations and consult with their health care provider to assess their risks and learn about prevention and treatment options,” a said the health department.

The local health emergency declaration allowed Public Health and various city and county and state departments to respond locally to the pandemic and protect local health care infrastructure. Employees from various departments and external organizations assisted with logistics, data entry and analysis, vaccines, tests and treatments, public information and planning.

Since March 11, 2020, Stanislaus County has had 118,997 positive cases (16,937 probable cases), 1,676 deaths, and 5,025 hospitalized. Turlock has recorded 15,317 positive cases (2,281 probable cases) and 242 deaths.

“Public Health will continue to work with hospitals and other health care providers, schools and businesses to monitor outbreaks and mitigate their effects on these organizations. Community members now also have broad access to tests, vaccines and treatments through their healthcare providers, community clinics and/or pharmacies,” the public health department said.

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom joined the governors of Oregon and Washington in announcing that states would strongly recommend masking in schools instead of mandating it.

California’s next phase in the fight against COVID-19 is the SMARTER plan.

SMARTER means:

• Injections – Vaccines are the most powerful weapon against hospitalization and serious illness.

• Masks – Properly worn masks with good filtration help slow the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses.

• Awareness – We will continue to stay aware of the spread of COVID-19, evolving variants, communicate clearly about how people should protect themselves, and coordinate the response of our state and local governments.

• Preparedness – COVID-19 is not going away and we need to be ready with the tools, resources and supplies we will need to respond quickly and keep public health and the healthcare system well prepared.

• Tests – Get the right kind of tests—PCR or antigen—where they’re needed most. Testing will help California minimize the spread of COVID-19.

• Education – California will continue to work to keep schools open and children safe in classrooms for in-person instruction.

• Rx – Evolution and improvement of treatments will become increasingly available and critical as a tool to save lives.

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