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‘It was scary for us’: What to know about COVID breakthrough cases in the Coachella Valley

Health officials have been seeing an increase in COVID-19 “breakthrough cases.” News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with one valley couple who shared their own family’s frightening experience battling COVID-19 after getting vaccinated. 

“Something as simple as breathing...you take for granted because it’s natural. But when you can’t...it’s scary,” said Desiree Mofidi, La Quinta. 

Desiree shared she had COVID-19 in January. She was then vaccinated in April. Just two weeks ago, she tested positive for COVID-19 again.  

“I was still choking in my sleep. I couldn’t catch my breath,” she said. 

Her son and her husband Dean, were also vaccinated — and also battling symptoms. 

“Sore throat, fever, hard breathing, bronchitis...it was a nightmare,” said Dean Mofidi. 

“I was getting to the point...where I was like...am I strong enough to get us in the truck and go to the hospital?” said Desiree. 

After days of worsening symptoms, they did ultimately go to an urgent care where they were prescribed antibiotics and steroids to reduce swelling. 

Desiree says they are just now starting to regain their energy. They’re sharing their experience to let others know that being vaccinated doesn’t guarantee you won’t test positive. 

“I’ll admit we let our guards down. We were socializing with friends again [...] I started questioning...are we getting the right information?” said Desiree. 

It’s a question that News Channel 3 took to the Riverside County Department of Public Health.  

“Do you think that the county is accurately tracking the number of breakthrough cases that we’re seeing in our community?” asked Madison Weil. 

“What we’re doing is using the internal systems that track cases,” said Jose Arballo, a public information officer with the Dept. of Public Health.

Arballo further explained that hospitals report the vaccination status of their COVID-19 patients to the state. The county now logs that information and will be releasing a monthly report. 

The latest report shows the number of breakthrough cases steadily increasing each month — a trend also being seen in the emergency room at Eisenhower Health. 

“About 15-20% of our admissions for COVID-19 are in vaccinated individuals,” said Dr. Alan Williamson, Chief Medical Officer, Eisenhower Health. 

Dr. Williamson says, however, the overwhelming majority of those who need to be put on a ventilator are unvaccinated. 

“We knew at the onset that vaccines were 90-95% effective. That’s still the case,” he added. 

With new variants emerging, health officials also say it’s still critical to get vaccinated even if you’ve had COVID. 

“You have the antibodies for the virus that you had. The variant might be different,” said Arballo. 

Arballo also pointed to a statistic in the latest county report that he says speaks volumes: 97.3% of all COVID-19-related deaths in Riverside County so far, have been among the unvaccinated. 

Health officials also shared with News Channel 3 that breakthrough cases are expected. As more people get vaccinated, that breakthrough number will likely increase. They added no vaccine is 100% effective, although evidence shows the current COVID-19 vaccines are still your best bet when it comes to protecting you and your family.

You can view the county's latest report on vaccination statistics HERE.

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

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