(KRON) — Transmission of the COVID-19 virus remains high in the San Mateo County community and is being dominated by the BA.5 variant, according to a statement released by County Health Chief Louise F. Rogers. In the statement, Rogers, who was named to the position in 2015, said “vaccination remains very important to protect against severe illness and death.”

Rogers’ message comes as kids in San Mateo County and across the Bay Area are preparing to return to the classroom, despite the current high rate of transmission and fewer requirements or restrictions remaining in place at many schools.

“We are grateful to our education partners for their work to update prevention policies and protocols to enable safe in-person learning,” Rogers said. “We value the focus by educational professionals and families on being current on vaccination and promoting ventilation, masking, testing and staying home when sick.”

Like most of the Bay Area, San Mateo County remains in the CDC’s “high” tier for COVID transmission. Rogers called the current period a “longer phase of high transmission” than the county has experienced in prior periods.

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As of Monday, there were 58 patients with COVID-19 in San Mateo County hospitals. That number has fluctuated between 30 and 60 for most of the last two and a half months, according to Rogers. This number is comparable to the number of patients hospitalized in the county during the height of the delta surge last year, although lower than last winter’s omicron surge. During that surge, the number of hospitalized patients in the county with COVID climbed to 160.

The number of hospitalized patients in the ICU remains in single digits currently.

“Our local hospitals continue to be able to manage these levels of hospitalization,” said Rogers.

In the statement, Rogers said the health department continues to recommend measures like wearing a high-quality mask indoors and increasing ventilation by opening doors and windows when possible. Residents who are symptomatic are urged to test and be in contact with their doctor.