CORONAVIRUS

A medical worker prepares to collect samples from individuals who signed up for "drive-through testing" for the coronavirus at a Penn Medicine site in West Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Penn, Jefferson and other area hospital systems have set up drive-through stations to swab for samples that can be tested for the coronavirus. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

With two new cases of COVID-19 in Tuolumne County, the Public Health Department announced Friday morning that they presume community transmission is underway.

The new cases are a 91-year-old woman and an 81-year-old woman, exposed by a 76-year-old woman whose case was announced Wednesday. The 75-year-old woman remains hospitalized.

Meanwhile, in Calaveras County on Friday, Public Health officials reported three more cases of COVID-19, two tied to a San Andreas woman whose case was reported Thursday, and an older woman from Angels Camp

The officials said a man and an infant, a girl, tested positive for coronavirus, the 17th and 18th case recorded in Calaveras County. The Angels Camp woman is the 19th case. 

The new cases in Tuolumne County are isolating at home, the Health Department said in a press release.

The three women in Tuolumne County  were not in a congregate care facility, the announcement said.

“This week presented the second community case in which no travel outside the county occurred,” the news release said.

Public Health officials said people who have been at any gathering with people outside their household should be tested.

On Wednesday, upwards of 300 people gathered in downtown Sonora. One group supported Black Lives Matter in Courthouse Square and another, across the street, said they were there to ensure violence did not occur. Many of them held signs saying White Lives Matter. 

Many people were without masks. There was a lot of shouting, which health officials consider an easy way to spread the virus.  

Also, Memorial Day weekend attracted hundreds of people to the mountains and lakes, many were believed to be from areas that have a higher infection rate. That was 10 days ago.

One woman said she drove to Kennedy Meadows on Highway 108 last weekend and almost cried because so many people were not wearing masks or staying six feet apart.

Health officials encouraged people who work in essential jobs and those who travel outside of their home county to get tested routinely.

Michelle Jachetta, the health program supervisor and spokesperson for the Public Health Department, said, “Community transmission means that people have been infected with the virus in the area, including some who are not sure how where they became infected.”

She said everyone is considered at risk since here is no vaccine, but those with underlying conditions and advanced age are at higher risk.

“This is part of the reason why precautionary actions such as physical distancing, avoiding co-mingling of households, increased hand hygiene, and masking continue to be very important,” she said.

Dr. Liza Ortiz, the county health officer, told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the two cases identified earlier — a 56-year-old woman and an inmate at Sierra Conservation Camp — represented a heavy workload for contact tracers because of the sheer number of people they encountered while contagious.

She said it was more than 100 people.

“This is what can very quickly happen in this community,” she told supervisors.

Each of those people must be quarantined and monitored daily.

She said the cases can overwhelm all agencies dealing with the pandemic. People should consider the effect of one positive case on their business.

“Will you be able to function if large numbers of your staff are in quarantine?” she said. 

 There are now seven positive cases in Tuolumne County. The 56-year-old woman, Linda Jensen, tested positive but never showed symptoms. She completed her quarantine last week. 

The 19 Calaveras County cases — the first two announced in early March — were before this week  centered in Copperopolis, West Point, Valley Springs and the upper Highway 4 area. 

The Health Department is investigating who the recent cases have been in contact with.  

On Wednesday June 3, 2020, Calaveras Public Health confirmed an additional case of “Community transmission of disease remains a serious concern,” the health department said in its new release.

Testing is being done in Angels Camp by OptumServe, a health services partner with the State of California, on a walk-in basis at the Calaveras Fairgrounds.

In all, 1,315 people have been tested in Calaveras County and 13 of the 18 people who tested positive have recovered, according to the news release.

In Tuolumne County, 1,333 people have been tested. The goal is for approximately 82 people per day to get tested. The number of tests returned between Thursday and Friday was 26. 

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