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’s COVID-19 surge continued to mount on Tuesday with 46 new cases reported and nine people hospitalized, while residents and business owners adjusted to their first day in the most restrictive tier of a state system intended to reduce spread of the virus.

While the entire state is experiencing a large increase in coronavirus cases, Tuolumne County had the largest increase in case rate among all counties in the state on Monday. The county’s case rate Tuesday was 16.5 with a 5 percent positivity rate.

“Diverse community transmission is responsible” for many of the new cases, the county Public Health Department said. “With case and test positivity substantially higher than the state average, the public is strongly advised to stay home to avoid unnecessary viral exposure.”

New cases identified on Tuesday were two females and four males under age 20; seven women and seven men in their 20s; three women and one man in their 30s; five women and two men in their 40s; three women and three men in their 50s; two women and one man in their 60s; three women and one man in their 70s; and one woman and one man in their 80s.

There were 254 active cases in the county on Tuesday, putting a strain on local resources for testing, contact tracing and management.

“The state testing site at the fairgrounds is being impacted by the huge increase in demand for testing, as is the hospital,” the county Public Health Department said Tuesday.

As a result, the department was asking people who believe they may have been exposed to a positive case and were not experiencing symptoms to hold off on testing for now unless they’re required to test on a regular schedule as a condition of their job.

The county’s move to the purple tier on Monday is intended to slow rapid spread of COVID-19, reduce risks of severe illness and death in vulnerable populations, and help keep hospitals and other health care facilities from becoming overwhelmed, the department said.

Purple-tier restrictions took effect Tuesday, and will be reevaluated Friday. For more information on the purple tier and what it means for businesses and other activities, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/#county-status.

The month’s webinar for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with information on how to stay in compliance with safety measures is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday. To register and join the meeting visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_l_hwTeYwRBugXKva_uEwAw.

There have been 615 total cases of COVID-19 in the county since the pandemic began, with 338 individuals recovered and eight deaths.

In Calaveras County, public health staff counted 11 new cases of COVID-19 from Saturday to Tuesday. The infected individuals were identified as four women and two men between 18 and 49 years old; and three women and two men over age 65.

“Calaveras Public Health discovered a reporting error among two cases in the bi-weekly COVID-19 count reported last Friday, November 13,” the division said.

Tuesday’s update revises the number of confirmed cases in Calaveras County to 399 total cases with 26 active cases and 352 individuals recovered. There have been a total of 21 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 counted in Calaveras County.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there had been more than 1.03 million cases of COVID-19 in California and 18,299 deaths statewide. Nationally, the pandemic had resulted in more than 11.3 million confirmed cases and contributed to the deaths of more than 248,420 Americans.

The California Department of Public Health has issued a travel advisory for people coming into the state. People arriving from outside the state on nonessential travel should quarantine 14 days after arrival and limit interactions to immediate household members.

No-cost COVID-19 testing is available at Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora five days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. The test site offers testing for anyone age 3 and older, accompanied by a parent or guardian. Appointments are required and appointments are available three days in advance. Appointments can be made at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123.

Local, state and federal public health authorities have warned this flu season could strain healthcare resources in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect anyone against COVID-19, but it can reduce an individual’s risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.

Free flu shots are available at the Tuolumne County Health Department building at 20111 Cedar Road North, Sonora, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays for anyone 2 and older. Face coverings are required, social distancing guidelines must be followed, and all visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Public health staff urge anyone with questions to call (209) 533-7401.

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

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