CORONAVIRUS

Nurses from the Bristol-Burlington Health District collects a patient's nasal swab at Bristol Hospital's drive-through coronavirus specimen collection station. The station has collected over 120 samples on previous days but, due to a scarcity of specimen collection kits, the hospital collects 40 tests a day. (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant/TNS)

New coronavirus cases in Tuolumne County have dropped below the California Department of Public Health’s limit for a two-week period that would cause the county to be placed on the state’s monitoring list and not be able to reopen schools on time.

The number of new cases rose by one on Wednesday to 132 since the pandemic and 52 over the two weeks since July 15, which was one less than the threshold of 53 that would trigger the county to be placed on the list.

Five or more new cases on Thursday would put the county back above the state’s threshold.

Counties that are on the list for three consecutive days must then shut down additional business sectors and activities, including in-person education at schools.

The county has yet to appear on the state’s monitoring despite exceeding the state’s threshold for six consecutive days beginning last Thursday, which the county Public Health Department said was in part due to delays in labs reporting results into the statewide case tracking system. 

“It also seems that there are some delays with the reports of our case numbers within the state site,” the department said. “We do not know when the state will put us on the monitoring ‘watch list’, but will continue to provide updates as we receive more information.”

Counties have to remain under the threshold for the numbers that the state monitors for three consecutive days to get off the list, though schools couldn’t reopen until the county has been off the list for 14 consecutive days.

A man in his 40s was the latest person in the county to test positive as of Wednesday. People under 60 represent three quarters of the county’s total cases to date.

Three people were hospitalized with the virus and a dozen were isolating as of Wednesday, with 115 recovered.

The county recorded its first two deaths from the virus on Monday, a man in his 60s who didn’t have any known health issues and a man in his 80s who had some underlying conditions.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 768-5175.

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