Orange County health director urges mask wear as COVID variant spreads

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Orange County has only registered nine new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days and has not recorded any new COVID-related deaths since April 5, however, public health measures are still in place .

Orange County health officials say community members should continue to adhere to mitigation strategies, especially as variants of the virus emerge.

More than 60% of Orange County residents are fully vaccinated and the number of COVID cases is dropping. Orange County Health director Quintana Stewart said the numbers are a good sign the vaccines are working.

However, even with these encouraging trends, Stewart said the county wanted to do more. That is why the Ministry of Health established the Orange County Mobile Immunization Team.

The Orange County mobile vaccination team poses next to one of the vans used to help home-confined community members receive a COVID-19 vaccination. (Photo via Orange County Department of Health)

“We go out and vaccinate those who are not physically able to make it to one of the vaccination clinic sites,” said Stewart.

The mobile vaccination team is distributing COVID vaccines free of charge to those in need, such as those confined to home or those on supplemental oxygen. So far, they have administered around 900 injections throughout the county.

Stewart said the team is a collaboration of community volunteers, paramedics and health department nurses.

“We’re really trying to make this accessible to anyone who wants to get a vaccine,” said Stewart.

Stewart said the success of the mobile vaccination initiative is another example of the Orange County community listening to public health officials.

“These are the members of the community. They took our lead and our advice, and they really took ownership of that and really worked in a way that shows we care, ”said Stewart. “This is the only way to truly end this pandemic, if we continue to operate in this vein.”

Getting to the end, however, becomes increasingly difficult with the emergence of the more contagious Delta variant. Mutation in original virus is now responsible for more than 20% of new COVID infections in the United States

Stewart said the variant is “a revelation” and should serve as a reminder that the pandemic is not over.

“I think people should just remember those mitigation strategies that worked,” said Stewart. “I would just say if you know you’re going to be inside, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to keep wearing this mask. Especially if you are surrounded by people and you don’t know what their vaccination status is.

While the Delta variant is of concern, Stewart said the best prevention measure is to get the vaccine.

For more information on vaccination in Orange County, click here.

Call 919-245-6127 to register and be referred to the Orange County Mobile Immunization Team.

Featured photo via Orange County Department of Health


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