Coronavirus cell

Elizabeth Fischer uses an electron microscope to capture images of the coronavirus, which is about 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. (Elizabeth Fischer/KHN/TNS)

Another unvaccinated individual — a man in his 60s — died of COVID-19 in Tuolumne County, and his death was counted Thursday with 46 new cases.

No further information about the man and his death, including where and when he died, was disclosed by the Tuolumne County Public Health Department.

There have been at least 18 coronavirus deaths counted in Tuolumne County since Aug. 16. Tuolumne County’s COVID-19 toll increased to 93 deaths since the pandemic began last year. Calaveras County has counted 63 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began.

Also Thursday, the Calaveras County Public Health Division added 25 new cases of COVID-19.

Seven of Tuolumne County’s 46 new cases were inmates at the Sierra Conservation Center state prison outside Jamestown. Of 39 community cases in the county, three individuals were vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of Thursday evening, there were 248 active coronavirus cases in Tuolumne County, including 14 COVID-positive individuals hospitalized. The county’s case rate was 51.3 per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks.

Community cases in Tuolumne County were identified as one girl and four boys under age 12; five girls and three boys between 12 and 17; four women and one man between 18 and 29; three women and two men in their 30s; four women in their 40s; three women and three men in their 50s; one man in his 60s; one woman and two men in their 70s; one woman in her 80s; and one woman in her 90s.

Also Thursday, Summerville High School students were sent home before lunchtime for an emergency school closure due to rising COVID-19 cases on campus. Summerville High is supposed to remain closed Friday and Monday, Michael Merrill, superintendent for the Summerville Union High School District, said in an announcement sent to students, staff and parents.

Asked about the increase in positive cases at Summerville, Merrill said, “We had five new cases in a period of four days.”

Merrill said he could not share whether those five cases were all students, or all staff, or a mix, due to guidelines that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic early last year.

Tuolumne County Public Health shared more information Thursday for people who are not feeling 100 percent well this week.

“As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 can sometimes be dismissed as allergies, a cold, wildfire smoke irritation, indigestion, etc.,” the Tuolumne County Public Health Department said in an update.

“If you are experiencing any new or worsening symptoms, even if it’s only one of the symptoms, please get tested right away and avoid close contact with others while waiting for your results. Symptoms can include fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. If you have more serious symptoms such as pain or pressure in your chest, trouble breathing, bluish lips or face, sudden confusion, having a hard time staying awake, dizziness, contact your healthcare provider or urgent care.”

The testing site at Mother Lode Fairgrounds was closed unexpectedly Thursday due to lack of staff. The site was also closed last Friday and Saturday, and it opened late on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday due to fire response activity at the fairgrounds. The site is run by Logistics Health Incorporated, a subsidiary of OptumServe, which is a federal health services contractor being paid by the state of California.

“We apologize for the inconvenience of today’s unexpected closure by LHI due to staffing issues,”  Tuolumne County Public Health said Thursday. “We are in contact with LHI and expect that the site will be open again tomorrow morning. They are planned to be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday. Due to increased demand, appointments should be made rather than walking in.”

Choosing to help the county Public Health Department slow the spread of COVID-19 “helps protect you, your family, and your community,” the Tuolumne County Public Health Department said Wednesday.

“We all need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. We strongly encourage everyone to be part of the solution and answer the phone — it may be the health department calling to let you know your test result came back positive for COVID-19, or that you have been in close contact with someone who has it.”

The Tuolumne County Public Department also shared a one-minute YouTube video this week produced by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. View the video at https://bit.ly/3zEM3gH online.

Tuolumne County Public Health continued Thursday to strongly urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. The most important step people can take to reduce the spread of disease and prevent serious illness and death, as well as reduce impacts on the local healthcare system, is to get fully vaccinated.

Anyone 12 and older is eligible for the COVID vaccine. Individuals may register for notification of upcoming clinics and schedule appointments on MyTurn at https://myturn.ca.gov/ or by calling (833) 422-4255. For Information on the various avenues to obtain a vaccination in Tuolumne County, visit www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1317/COVID-Vaccine online.

The biggest testing site in Tuolumne County, at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, is supposed to be open for seven-days-a-week testing. Testing is no longer available at Tuolumne Veterans Memorial Hall.

Testing appointments can be scheduled online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123. Testing is also available through Adventist Health Rapid Care and the hospital emergency department if you are experiencing symptoms.

Being fully vaccinated continues to significantly reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19, the Tuolumne County Public Health Department said Thursday.

“As we continue to experience an extremely high rate of new cases daily, Public Health continues to strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated,” Tuolumne County Public Health stated Thursday.

Wearing masks in public, keeping social distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands, and staying home when sick will help slow the spread of the virus, county Public Health said.

“If you receive a positive test result, please isolate at home and our Public Health team will reach out to you as soon as possible,” the department stated Thursday.

For information and guidance on isolation and quarantine, visit https://bit.ly/3sf3bGM online.

Testing

When you should get tested: Five days after travel or close contact with others outside your household; as soon as possible if experiencing symptoms; and/or every 14 to 28 days if regularly working with the public.

Testing is available from:

• Local health care providers;

• Adventist Health Sonora, call first: (209) 536-5166;

• Rite Aid at 855 Mono Way, Sonora: www.riteaid.com/pharmacy/services/covid-19-testing

• Mother Lode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora  — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Appointments are recommended and can be scheduled at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123.

Vaccinations

• Book vaccine appointments at https://myturn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255.

• Homebound residents in Tuolumne County can contact health@tuolumnecounty.ca.gov or (209) 533-7440 for a mobile vaccination appointment. They or their caretakers can also go to https://myturn.ca.gov and select “homebound.”

• CVS and Rite Aid stores in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties: Sign up at https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine or www.riteaid.com/pharmacy/covid-qualifier

• Adventist Health Sonora: Find out more information by going to www.adventisthealthsonora.org/covidvaccine or call (209) 536-5165.

• The Safeway pharmacy: Register at mhealthsystem.com/3127tuolumne or call (209) 533-7812.

• The Save Mart pharmacy: Register at https://savemartluckysched.rxtouch.com/smsched/program/covid19/Patient/Advisory or call (209) 536-1118 for Sonora store.

• Twain Harte Pharmacy: Call (209) 586-3225 for information and appointments.

• Groveland Pharmacy: Call (209) 962-5211 for information and appointments.

• Information on VA Clinic vaccinations: https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.net or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.