On December 15, the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) announced that they are preparing to transition its operational, clinical and technological COVID-19 response from an emergency posture to routine business operations. This occurs as COVID-19 Public Health Emergency proclamations are anticipated to end in the first quarter of 2023.
To align with the ending of the emergency declaration, the HCA will alter its COVID-19 responses as follows:
- The HCA will transfer most COVID-19 response services to the open marketplace where individuals will self-manage COVID-19 with the help of their primary care providers and other community-based resources.
- HCA-sponsored vaccination clinics will be discontinued at the end of the year. Individuals attending remaining events will be instructed to visit alternative locations for future needs through their primary care provider, Community Clinics, Pharmacy Chains and the HCA Family Health Clinic (FHC) at 17th Street.
- HCA’s FHC at 17th Street will conduct COVID-19 related services (testing, vaccinations and treatment) and will be identified as a vaccine and testing provider on myturn.ca.gov, www.vaccine.gov and www.ochealthinfo.com. Residents will be able to call for an appointment at (800) 914-4887.
- HCA’s use of Othena as a clinical operational management system for testing, vaccination, and test to treat services will be transitioned to mainstream platforms by the end of 2022. Future messaging will direct providers, vendors, community partners and residents to other program support platforms such as and myturn.ca.gov or www.Vaccines.gov.
The end of the State of Emergency does not mark an end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently moved Orange County from Low to Medium COVID-19 Community Level Transmission. This is determined by the number of local COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 hospital admissions, and inpatient beds occupied for COVID-19. In addition to COVID-19, Orange County and the U.S. are seeing sharp increases in flu cases, well beyond the numbers at this point in previous years.
“We are seeing a winter wave in cases and hospitalizations, and the move to the 'MEDIUM' transmission level confirms that.” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, County Health Officer, and HCA’s Chief Medical Officer. “Understanding the risk of COVID-19 for yourself can help you make informed decisions to keep you safe and healthy. If you or your loved ones have risk factors, develop a COVID-19 plan in case you get sick. The White House announced today that they will make free at-home COVID-19 test kits available. To order, visit www.covidtests.gov or call (800) 232-0233. We encourage residents to take advantage of this resource and plan to test before and after gatherings.”
The HCA recommends residents take preventive actions to minimize the risk of severe illness and advise the following:
- Get vaccinated, boosted and treated if you test positive. Treatments are most effective if taken soon after symptoms begin. Visit COVID-19 Treatment - Coronavirus COVID-19 Response (ca.gov).*
- Wear a mask at indoor public places which significantly slows the spread of COVID or any germs.
- Stay home if you’re sick – This is especially important for respiratory viruses like flu, RSV and COVID-19.
- Wash your hands frequently!
- Cover your cough or sneeze – Use your elbow, arm or a disposable tissue.
The HCA will continue to respond to community inquiries through it’s Health Referral Line at 1-800-564-8448 to ensure the community has information and access to testing, vaccination and treatment resources during this transition process and beyond.
For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including case counts, vaccination, and testing in Orange County, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/covid.
*As of December 9, authorized use of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines has been expanded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC to include children ages 6 months to five years. Children ages 6 months – 5 years are eligible for an updated bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 2 months after completing a primary series of the Moderna vaccine. Children aged 6 months to 4 years of age who have not yet begun their 3-dose primary Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible to receive an updated bivalent Pfizer vaccine as the third dose in their primary series following 2 doses of the original monovalent Pfizer vaccine. Mixing different brands is not allowed. Parents should talk to their child’s health care provider about COVID-19 vaccines/boosters as a means for ongoing protection against COVID-19.