Despite a dramatic decline in new cases since the introduction of approved vaccines, San Bernardino County is continuing to see outbreaks of COVID-19. While most of these patients are not experiencing life-threatening illnesses, they still pose a threat to the county’s more vulnerable residents.

“Most of the people we are now seeing are young and in generally good health,” said Rodney Borger, an emergency room physician at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. “Yet while few face truly life-threatening conditions, many still suffer a variety of unpleasant effects in both the short and long terms.”

Borger’s greatest concern is that unvaccinated individuals will spread the virus to residents who are older or otherwise vulnerable to serious consequences or that they might experience long-term effects from the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common lasting symptoms from COVID-19 are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain.

“We have done an excellent job getting our most vulnerable residents vaccinated, and the results are seen in our dramatically lower hospitalization and death rates,” Borger said. “However, a substantial portion of our population has declined, or at least delayed, getting a vaccine shot.”

He pointed out that virtually every new case involves unvaccinated individuals and said that COVID-19 would remain active as long as a significant portion of the population continues to neglect getting vaccinated.

“Frankly, there is a segment of the population that has simply refused to get vaccinated, including a number of incarcerated individuals,” Borger said. “There is little we can do about this group. However, there are other county residents who don’t oppose vaccinations on principle but have neglected to get a shot. These are the people we are urging to get vaccinated.”

Borger said this lingering population of unvaccinated individuals is particularly concerning in light of the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19. New data released by the California Department of Public Health show 35.6 percent of coronavirus variants analyzed in June have been identified as the Delta variant, which was first identified in India. That’s an increase from May when it accounted for 5.6 percent of analyzed coronavirus cases in the state.

“The Delta variant spreads much more quickly and easily than previous strains,” Borger said. “Fortunately, the approved vaccines have been shown to protect against it. So, the solution to the problem remains the same: convincing the unvaccinated to invest 20 minutes or so to get a shot.

As of Tuesday, July 13, San Bernardino County recorded 300,996 total cases, up 1,048 from last week’s 299,948. The county recorded 294,554 recoveries, 588 more than the previous week. A total of 4,758 deaths have been recorded, up 64 from last week’s 4,694. The case fatality rate remains at 1.5 percent.

The 103 hospital patients are up 16 from the previous week’s 87. The patients are utilizing 4.1 percent of the beds, up from the previous week’s 3.3 percent. The county recorded 22 positive ICU patients, down one from the previous week. COVID-19 patients are occupying 5.3 percent of these beds. ICU availability dropped from 44.2 percent to 44.1 percent.

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