[NOTE: Updated with additional information on July 30]
On Tuesday, July 27, Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Rosansky released a video announcement to Chamber members and other businesses and community members detailing an upward trend in coronavirus statistics and new vaccine mandates for state employees.
He released a second video on Wednesday, July 28, announcing further coronavirus guidelines from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health.
“In my video on June 15, I declared it Liberation Day,” said Rosansky in the July 27 video. “It was the day that most of the restrictions in California on masking and occupancy were lifted, due to a steep decrease in coronavirus infections and the successful rollout of the vaccination program.”
However, said Rosansky, six weeks later the delta variant has emerged and the trend is starting to look disturbing.
“The latest coronavirus indicators were published today and the case rate per 100,000 has risen to 8.0,” said Rosansky. “The positivity percentage now stands at 4.9 percent, and the health equity metric is now at 4.4 percent. All of these indicators are five to 10 times higher than they were on June 15.”
“Based on the rising statewide numbers, Gov. Newsom announced that all state employees will either have to prove they are vaccinated or will have to mask up and undergo weekly testing for coronavirus,” continued Rosansky. “This mandate will also be required of hospital workers, and workers in other healthcare settings in the private sector.”
Essentially, explained Rosansky, “anyone who thought we had broken the back of the pandemic here in Orange County is mistaken. Unvaccinated individuals are still at significant risk of infection, hospitalization and possibly worse. Just looking at the numbers, on June 15 there were 54 people hospitalized with coronavirus and 13 people in the ICU. Today, those numbers have quadrupled with 212 in the hospital and 48 in the ICU. Most of those people are unvaccinated.”
Rosansky said that Orange County data shows that five times the number of unvaccinated individuals are testing positive compared to those who have been fully vaccinated.
“Looking at the number of new cases per day, on June 15 we were averaging 33. On July 18, the average has increased almost nine times to 284 cases per day. Next week’s average will be even higher. We would have to go back to mid-February to see the kind of daily cases we are experiencing now.”
However, Rosansky noted it’s not all bad news.
“Putting all of this in perspective, we are only at one tenth the number of daily cases today as compared with the peak at the beginning of January. It will be almost impossible to reach the levels we saw at the peak of the pandemic earlier this year due to the high rate of vaccination among eligible individuals in Orange County and elsewhere in California.”
Unfortunately, said Rosansky, as long as there are a significant number of unvaccinated individuals, we are forced to live with coronavirus in our community. His advice: try and be circumspect in our activities to avoid a return to the shutdowns and other restrictions that could be re-imposed if this upward trend continues, especially when kids start to return to school in late August and September.
“Vaccination resistant individuals might want to reconsider based upon the most recent data, and should consult their medical provider to understand the safety aspects of vaccination as compared to the risk of contracting Covid-19,” advised Rosansky. “After all, we’re all in this together.”
In the July 28 video, Rosansky said that federal and state agencies are backtracking on masking guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, and are recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask indoors in areas of the country where there are substantial or high transmission rates of the coronavirus.
“Clearly the Delta variant has been a game changer, driving up the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Rosansky in the video.
Rosansky noted that Orange County is currently designated as a high transmission area, while surrounding counties are even worse. He also reminded viewers that these guidelines are still recommendations and not mandates, but at the rate the Delta variant is spreading, he suggested it might not be long before masks become mandatory again.
“Prudence dictates that If you are fully vaccinated and are going to be indoors in a public setting such as a meeting or an event, you should consider masking up for your own protection as well as for the protection of the unvaccinated, the immuno-compromised, and children under 12 not eligible for a vaccination,” concluded Rosansky.