The race is on; vaccine against variant as Mono cases begin to increase for first time in weeks

By Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

The race is on, vaccine against variant, as the country and Mono County push the clock to get as many vaccines in arms as possible before a veritable suite of emerging – and dangerous – new Covid-19 mutations trigger yet another surge of cases.

Although Mono County is in an enviable place vaccine wise, with 33 percent of the county now vaccinated fully and 50 percent about to be fully vaccinated in the next few weeks (the average in the state is about 30 percent fully vaccinated), the county is surrounded by a country that is so far only about 15 percent fully vaccinated – and where many states are re-opening at a quick clip.

At the same time, a suite of Covid-19 mutations, all of them more transmissible than the original virus, are beginning to spike alarming numbers of cases in many states in counties in the country.

Also at the same time, Mono County just re-opened Mammoth Unified School District to partial in-person teaching last week when the county moved to the Red Tier and more businesses were allowed to open more fully.

Also at the same time, several populous Southern California counties were preparing at press time to move to the Orange Tier this week, meaning the virus will have a better chance to spread in our close neighbors than when the region was under more restrictive measures.

For those reasons and more, county cases are beginning to uptick for the first time in several weeks, from about seven cases per 100,000 population a week or so ago to about 15 per 100,000 this week. Although the county would have to reach 35 cases per 100,000 to backslide into the Purple Tier, the uptick locally, and the national trends, are reason enough not to get complacent, county health officials said this week.

“There are rising numbers across the country and what’s concerning is there is an increase in cases of younger people, ages ten to 19,” he said.

He noted that part of the county’s increase includes several Mammoth students who tested positive (the students were asymtomatic). The positive tests triggered a two-week cessation of some in-person classes barely a week after all grades started in-person he said. Although the students did not appear to be getting Covid within the school setting (the cases were traced to older family members), it is far too soon to relax and act like the pandemic is over, Wheeler said.

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