Coronavirus cell

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID/TNS)

Tuolumne County reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon — the highest number for a single day since February — with one of them being a fully vaccinated person who was hospitalized.

The total for Wednesday included 14 community cases and four inmate cases at Sierra Conservation Center outside of Jamestown. Two of the community cases were people who had been fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, including the hospitalized person.

Dr. Eric Sergienko, the county’s interim health officer, said they are tracking two active clusters of cases, but he didn’t believe all of the cases on Wednesday were linked to them.

Sergienko said the county and others throughout the region are generally seeing a significant rise in cases that are likely linked to the increasing spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Three cases of the Delta variant in the county have been confirmed to date through genome sequencing, which is only done for a portion of positive samples and can take up to three weeks for results.

Though the county hasn’t received any additional sequencing results since the first three Delta variant cases were confirmed on July 2, Sergienko said he believes the variant to likely be the cause for the recent spike after speaking with a CDPH team Wednesday afternoon. 

The county’s two-week running average of new cases per day increased to 7.9 on Wednesday, which was up from 6.2 on Tuesday and 0.5 on June 15 when the state lifted most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions on daily life.

There have been 154 new cases since May 24, when the county began reporting the vaccination status of each new case. All but 10 of those have been people who were not vaccinated.

Only two of the 10 fully vaccinated cases have been hospitalized for the coronavirus, including the one reported on Wednesday. The other was a person in their 80s reported on Monday who was hospitalized briefly over the weekend before being released to their home.

The county had three additional active hospitalizations for COVID-19 on Wednesday who were all unvaccinated people. The most recent of the county’s 73 deaths was reported earlier this month as a man in his 70s who was not vaccinated.

“Vaccination continues to be the most important step you can take to protect yourself and those around you from infection, severe illness, and death from COVID-19,” the county Public Health Department wrote in its daily report of new cases released Wednesday afternoon.

About 46% of county residents of eligible age (12 or older) are currently vaccinated, compared to more than 61% statewide. The county has 21,668 fully vaccinated people and 3,314 partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, out of an estimated 46,300 who are eligible.

Additionally, the department reminded people to get tested if they are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms, have had contact with a positive case, think they may have been exposed to the virus, or are regularly in an environment where they may be exposed.

The department also advised people to quarantine if they test positive or come into close contact with someone who has tested positive and follow the instructions provided to limit further spread of the virus.

“If you are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms, please stay home except to seek medical care or get tested,” the department said.

People are also encouraged by the department to continue practicing other proven methods reducing the spread of the virus, including washing their hands frequently and wearing a mask when indicated.

Los Angeles County enacted a mandate on Saturday requiring everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, to go back to wearing masks when indoors in public settings. 

Other counties in the state where cases have spiked are recommending people go back to wearing masks indoors, though Sergienko said on Friday that he didn’t believe Tuolumne County’s case rate had reached the point for that to be necessary.

See below for information on testing and vaccinations:

Testing

When you should get tested: Five days after travel or close contact with others outside of 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

• Tuolumne Veterans Memorial Hall, 18375 Fir Avenue — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Appointments are recommended and can be scheduled at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123. 

Vaccinations 

• The Tuolumne County Public Health Department: To find out if you’re eligible and register for available vaccination clinics, visit: https://myturn.ca.gov/.

• 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.

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

• The Calaveras County Public Health Division has a clinic at Frogtown, 2465 Gun Club Road, outside Angels Camp. Register for appointments at https://bit.ly/3dZqvDh or call (209) 419-7314.

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