Coronavirus cell

An colorized electron microscope photograph from Elizabeth Fischer shows viral particles being released from a dying cell infected with the coronavirus. Contact tracers reach out to people who test positive and those they've been in contact with and can help them with isolating. (Courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Fischer/KHN/TNS)

Tuolumne County added 51 new cases of COVID-19 from Saturday to Monday, which included 19 new cases at the Sierra Conservation Center state prison outside Jamestown.

The county Public Health Department counted 73 active cases as of Monday afternoon, with five individuals hospitalized for the coronavirus, and an average daily case rate of 15.3 over the past two weeks.

A new state health order was issued Monday by the California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, in response to increasing cases and hospitalizations driven by the now predominant and more contagious Delta variant.

The order requires certain health care facilities that include hospitals and nursing homes, as well as “congregate settings,” such as homeless shelters and jails, prisons, or juvenile halls, to verify vaccination status of all workers.

“​The COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant challenge in California,” the order said. “California is currently experiencing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases during the entire pandemic with 11.2 new cases per 100,000 people per day, with case rates increasing fivefold within two months. The Delta variant, which is very highly contagious and possibly more virulent, is currently the most common variant causing new infections in California.”

Unvaccinated people are more likely to get infected and spread the virus, the CDPH said. Most current hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated persons, including in Tuolumne County.

The 51 new cases in Tuolumne County included 32 new community cases, with only three of them being people who were vaccinated. 

Among the new community cases were five girls and three boys under age 18; three women and five men between 18 and 29; three women and two men in their 30s; four women and one man in their 40s; two men in their 50s; two women and one man in their 60s; and one man in his 70s.

Calaveras County added two new cases from Saturday to Monday, though its public health division does not disclose age, gender, or vaccination status of each new case.

The Tuolumne County Public Health Department was also  investigating two cases of what they called possible re-infection as of Monday afternoon. One was a woman in her 20s who was first diagnosed in July 2020 before recently becoming symptomatic, and testing positive this week. The other, a woman in her 40s who was first diagnosed in November 2020, recently became symptomatic and tested positive this week. 

Neither of the individuals who were described as possibly re-infected were vaccinated.

“We would like to remind the public of the importance of vaccination,” the Tuolumne County Public Health Department said, “even for those who have previously had COVID.”

Everyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID vaccinations in Tuolumne County. People 12 to 17 are currently authorized to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations. Individuals can register for notification of upcoming clinics and schedule appointments on MyTurn at https://myturn.ca.gov/  or by calling (833) 422-4255. For more information on ways to get vaccinated in Tuolumne County, go to www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1317/COVID-Vaccine online.

Tuolumne County officials expressed frustration last week about how the area’s vaccination rate has remained stuck at about 50% of eligible age people fully vaccinated, while the rest of the state overall has surpassed 61%. The goal is to reach at least 70%.

Also as of Monday, California had counted more than 3.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 63,806 coronavirus deaths. Nationally, the pandemic had resulted in more than 34.5 million confirmed cases and contributed to the deaths of more than 610,945 Americans.

The state testing site run by Optum Serve/LHI staff at Tuolumne Memorial Hall is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Walk-ins are accepted. Appointments are recommended and can be scheduled at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123. 

Anyone experiencing symptoms or desiring a test for any other reason, can seek testing through local health providers, Rapid Care, or Rite-Aid, Tuolumne County Public Health staff said.

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

• Book a vaccine appointment at https://myturn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255.

• 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 or call (209) 533-7812.

• The Save Mart pharmacy: Register at https://savemartluckysched.rxtouch.com/smsched/program/covid19/Patient/Advisory or call (209) 536-1118 for Sonora store.

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

• Groveland Pharmacy: Call (209) 962-5211 for information and appointments.

• Information on VA Clinic vaccinations: https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine

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

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