Sacramento, Placer counties still have the highest state COVID-19 infection rates

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — It’s a source of frustration for health officials in Placer and Sacramento counties — infection rates of around 8.4% per 100,000 residents — even as more and more Californians get vaccinated.

Though Sacramento County said more recent numbers are at 8.1% per 100,000, that’s twice the state average and nearly three times higher than what San Francisco and Los Angeles are reporting.

It’s more of a plateau rather than a surge — but still a concern and a puzzle.

“It’s hard to pinpoint what the issues are, exactly,” said Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

That’s because there aren’t any huge outbreaks at any location, meaning it’s spread by community transmission.

County health officials say the numbers are dependent on how many people are tested.

For instance, in Yolo County, several thousand UC Davis students and employees are tested multiple times a week, leading to fewer cases per hundred thousand. 

In addition, the presence of new variants has been documented in Sacramento County. 

“Some of them tend to be more infections, more transmittable, so that could be a factor,” Kasirye mused.

Sacramento County is also slightly behind in the numbers of people vaccinated, with some vaccine sites not fully booked and not making walk-up vaccinations available. 

Currently, the county is trying to combat vaccine hesitancy, although whether that contributes to higher infection rates is murky. 

“It’s hard to measure. We know it’s there; we know there are studies or surveys being done,” Kasirye said.

But variants are present in counties that have falling infection rates as well, and Placer County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state. 

State protocols mean Placer and Sacramento counties may not get into the less restrictive orange tier for another three weeks — or perhaps longer. 

Meanwhile, Placer and Sacramento health officials believe there is a clear path forward. 

“The way out of this for us is vaccinations. We are making a huge push to be able to have more pop-up sites,” Kasirye said.

In June, the state is set to fully reopen, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, while also doing away with the colored tier system.

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