The deaths of three more unvaccinated Tuolumne County residents to COVID-19 were announced Wednesday, with the deceased individuals identified all as men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, respectively.
As of Wednesday, COVID-19 had contributed to 144 deaths in Tuolumne County and 89 deaths in Calaveras County since the pandemic began early last year. In Tuolumne County, 137 of those deaths involved unvaccinated individuals and seven were vaccinated.
California and San Francisco public health authorities also confirmed on Wednesday that the first known COVID-19 case caused by the omicron variant in the United States was an individual who returned to the state from South Africa on Nov. 22.
The omicron variant is also known as B.1.1.529. The individual is said to be self-quarantining and had mild symptoms that are improving, but has yet to test negative. All the person’s close contacts have been reached and have all tested negative, authorities said.
Dr. Eric Sergienko, the interim Tuolumne County health officer, said basic public health actions people can do to protect themselves remain the same regardless of the variant: Get vaccinated; get a booster if eligible; wear a mask when indoors in public spaces; get tested when feeling symptoms, after travel, or if working closely with visitors; and stay home when sick.
Tuolumne County added 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 10 of those individuals unvaccinated and one who was vaccinated. The county’s daily case rate also decreased Wednesday to 18.2 per 100,000 residents averaged over the previous two weeks, down from 18.7 per 100,000 on Tuesday.
The county’s new cases on Wednesday were identified as two girls and one boy under age 12; two women and one man in their 30s; two women and one man in their 50s; one woman in her 60s; and one woman in her 70s.
Calaveras County added 11 more cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday. Calaveras County Public Health does not publicly disclose vaccination status of new cases or deaths attributed to COVID-19.
There were 10 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Tuolumne County on Wednesday, which include five who were vaccinated and five who were unvaccinated. That was down from six vaccinated and five unvaccinated the day before, the first time ever that vaccinated patients in the county outnumbered those who were unvaccinated.
Sergienko said people shouldn’t be concerned that the breakdown of hospitalizations on Tuesday is part of any sort of larger trend.
“With this small of a population and narrow window of time, there are going to be moments (and) days when the percentage of vaccinated cases is greater than the average over time,” he said. “For the greater region, we continue to have about 20% of our cases being fully vaccinated.”
Sergienko shared a graphic to emphasize more than 80% of new COVID-19 cases from June 1 to Nov. 22 in an eight-county region that included Tuolumne and Calaveras involved individuals who were not fully vaccinated.
The graphic came from the Yosemite Gateway Area Coordination Team, which is led by Sergienko and covers Calaveras, Tuolumne, Kings, Mariposa, Madera, Merced, Mono and Fresno counties.
The state Department of Public Health also puts out weekly reports on the effectiveness of vaccines that show and describe the benefits of vaccination in terms of decreased cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Sergienko said.
Unvaccinated people in California were 7.2 times more likely to get COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people from Nov. 14 to 20, the state Department of Public Health said in its most recent report on unvaccinated and vaccinated data.
The interactive page devoted to cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is at https://covid19.ca.gov/state-dashboard/#postvax-status.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 62.4% of people age 12 and older in Tuolumne County were fully vaccinated and 65.8% of people age 12 and older in Calaveras County were fully vaccinated, according to county data monitored by the CDC.
For more information about booster eligibility visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Vaccine-Booster-QA.aspx online.
The Mother Lode Fairgrounds testing site off Stockton Road in Sonora is supposed to be open seven days a week. The site is run by Logistics Health Incorporated, a subsidiary of OptumServe, which is a federal health services contractor being paid by the state of California.
When you should get tested: Five days after travel or close contact with others outside 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
• Mother Lode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Appointments are recommended and can be scheduled at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123.
• Book vaccine appointments at https://myturn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255.
• Homebound residents in Tuolumne County can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 533-7440 for a mobile vaccination appointment. They or their caretakers can also go to https://myturn.ca.gov and select “homebound.”
• 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 more information at www.adventisthealthsonora.org/covidvaccine or call (209) 536-5165.
• Safeway pharmacy: register at mhealthsystem.com/3127tuolumne or call (209) 533-7812.
• 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 email@example.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.