Coronavirus cell

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)--also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19--isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (gray) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

Tuolumne County added 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, five of which involved inmates at the Sierra Conservation Center state prison outside Jamestown, while California approached a milestone of 45,000 coronavirus deaths

The county’s coronavirus death toll remained at 51 as of Wednesday afternoon.

The 18 new community cases counted Wednesday included two women in their 50s; three men in their 60s; three men in their 80s; and a man and a woman in their 90s.

The county Public Health Department and Office of Emergency Services were planning to stage an online information seminar about the county’s response to COVID-19 at 6 p.m. Wednesday. 

Tuolumne County’s COVID-19 recent case rates and test positivity rates improved on the California Department of Public Health’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy earlier this week. The county remained in the state’s purple tier for widespread risk of coronavirus infection.

The county’s daily case rate as of Wednesday was 15 per 100,000 people, and its  test positivity rate was 5.5%. As of Wednesday, those numbers were too high for the county to move down into less restrictive red or orange tiers for substantial risk and moderate risk, respectively.

As of Wednesday, the county had counted 3,757 total cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began early last year, with 2,441 community cases and 1,316 inmate cases. There were 67 active coronavirus cases, and five COVID-positive individuals were hospitalized as of Wednesday.

The county Public Health Department continues to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to people in Phase 1A and Phase 1B-Tier 1 of a state vaccine distribution plan, for individuals age 70 and older as well as licensed childcare workers and emergency services workers. More than 800 individuals were vaccinated Tuesday. Visit www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1317/COVID-Vaccine online for more information.

As of Wednesday afternoon, California had counted more than 3.36 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 44,995 coronavirus deaths. Nationally, the pandemic had resulted in more than 27.27 million confirmed cases and contributed to the deaths of more than 471,145 Americans.

A regional stay home order that was based on intensive care unit availability in the 12-county San Joaquin Valley region, which includes Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, was rescinded in late January.

The COVID-19 testing site at Mother Lode Fairgrounds, set up by the state and run by Optum Serve-LHI, is supposed to be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Once-a-week testing sites are being staged at Groveland Community Hall, 18720 Main Street in Groveland, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays; and at Tuolumne Memorial Hall, 18375 Fir Ave. in the town of Tuolumne, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Appointments can be scheduled at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123.

People with concerns about new or worsening symptoms can call Adventist Health Sonora’s COVID-19 Triage Line at (209) 536-5166.

The county COVID-19 call center is open during normal office hours. People who have questions or concerns can call (209) 533-7440.

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