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)

Tuolumne County added four new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, including a woman in her 40s who was hospitalized.

That brings the total to 34 cases. Three of the cases were associated with Avalon Care Center, ostensibly workers since the women are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. 

“The vast majority of test results from Avalon are still pending,” Michelle Jachetta, spokesperson for the department, said in a news release. “We also received notification of a positive case in a non-resident whose case is being investigated and will be assigned to their county of residence.”

The announcement was accompanied by a statement from Dr. Liza Ortiz, the interim health officer, saying the spread was no longer able to be contained but her agency is working to mitigate the spread or reducing the severity of the outbreak. 

“Our efforts to get back to the containment stage include mobilizing additional staff to assist with contact investigation and continuing to work with the state and regional laboratories to optimize lab processing capacity,” she said.

The demand for testing has outstripped local resources, Ortiz said, requiring longer wait times due to the tests being sent out of the area.

Public Health has already said the county is experiencing community transmission rather than cases stemming from contact with people outside the area. 

She called out business owners and people attending gatherings for not adhering to state orders requiring masks and social distancing.

“By not following them, our community is at greater risk for continued spread of disease and severe impact to our essential workforce and industries, as well as our healthcare system,” she said. 

Some people who have been exposed are not complying with quarantine, she said.

“Public Health will continue to make every effort to communicate with all individuals who we know have been exposed, but we cannot, in every case, be sure that we have contacted everyone,” she said. “We will advise all parties to isolate and quarantine, but our community should understand that not all individuals may be cooperative in following those instructions.”

Two people are hospitalized and 22 are in isolation. The news release did not specify the severity of the symptoms of those in isolation. In all, 3,838 tests have been returned, an increase of about 400 tests since Tuesday.

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