Coronavirus

Coronavirus Cell

Tuolumne County tallied 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and was investigating the death of a person who was recently hospitalized for the deadly virus.

The deceased person was not identified, and no information was released about when or where the individual was when he or she died.

“An additional death has been reported of a case who was recently hospitalized, and the cause of death is still under investigation,” Tuolumne County Public Health staff said in their Tuesday update. “The death will not be counted in our data until the investigation has been completed.”

The county’s total of deaths where coronavirus was the primary or contributing cause remained at 36 on Tuesday.

New cases in the county included nine new community cases and six new Sierra Conservation Center state prison inmates. New community cases included three men and one woman in their 50s; a woman in her 60s; and a man in his 70s.

Calaveras County, which updates its coronavirus statistics twice a week, confirmed 23 new cases on Tuesday. Calaveras Public Health has counted 945 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since early this year, with 879 individual cases described as recovered and 44 active cases as of Tuesday evening. There have been a total of 22 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 counted in Calaveras County.

“Later this week Calaveras Public Health will be adding a backlog of confirmed COVID-19 cases to its case count,” Calaveras Public Health said Tuesday. “This has been an ongoing effort to resolve a discrepancy between the number of COVID-19 cases reported by us compared to those reported by the state. The public should expect a large number of cases reported and the discrepancy to decrease.”  

Calaveras County is going to start COVID-19 vaccinations for people who are 75 and older beginning next week, Sam Leach, the interim county Health and Human Services Agency director, said Tuesday. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Tuolumne County Public Health Department had no similar timetable for vaccinating individuals 75 and older.

“A vaccine interest form has been posted to our website and we are asking only those who meet the criteria for Phase 1A to complete the form if they have not yet been in contact with Public Health to coordinate their vaccination,” Tuolumne County Public Health staff said Tuesday. “We would like to ask the public, rather than calling Public Health directly at this time, that if you fall into Phase 1B or later phases, to please continue following our website and local media for updates.”

The Tuolumne County vaccine information website is at www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1317/COVID-Vaccine online.

As of Tuesday evening, Tuolumne County had counted 3,251 total cases of coronavirus since early this year, with 2,076 community cases, 1,175 inmate cases, and 36 deaths.

As of Tuesday afternoon, California had counted more than 2.74 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 30,500 deaths. Nationally, the pandemic had resulted in more than 22.7 million confirmed cases and contributed to the deaths of more than 379,500 Americans.

A new state travel advisory is in effect, and Californians should avoid non-essential travel more than 120 miles from their place of residence.

The county public health department has been approved to open testing sites at Tuolumne Memorial Hall, 18375 Fir Ave. in the town of Tuolumne, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays; and at Groveland Community Hall, 18720 Main Street in Groveland, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays. The first opening date for the new testing site at Tuolumne is expected to be this Thursday, Jan. 14. The first opening date for the new testing site at Groveland is expected to be next Monday, Jan. 18. Appointments can be scheduled at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123.

The current regional stay home order is based on intensive care unit availability in the 12-county San Joaquin Valley region, which includes Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. ICU availability for the San Joaquin Valley region remained at 0 percent as of Tuesday, and a four-week ICU projection on a California Department of Public Health map stated “does not meet criteria to exit order.”

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state Health and Human Services secretary, said in late December stay home order for the San Joaquin Valley region will be extended until projections from the state show ICU capacity above or equal to 15 percent. Projections will be calculated and updated daily moving forward.

“Please stay vigilant, wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain a safe social distance from others to help slow the spread and the impact to our local hospital and healthcare system,” county public health staff said.

Also Tuesday, the 13-county Greater Sacramento region that includes Alpine County, which borders Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, exited its regional stay home order, said Richard O. Johnson, the Alpine County health officer.

“Today, the California Department of Public Health released the most recent statistics on COVID-19, including data on intensive care unit capacity across the state,” Johnson said. “Based on four-week ICU projections, the Greater Sacramento region can immediately exit the Regional Stay at Home Order. Counties within that region will return to the tiering system and rules under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”

The COVID-19 testing site at Mother Lode Fairgrounds, set up by the state and run by Optum Serve-LHI, is supposed to be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and appointments can be scheduled by calling 888-634-1123 or online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting.

People with concerns about new or worsening symptoms can call the Adventist Health Sonora COVID-19 Triage Line at (209) 536-5166 to speak to a nurse or other clinician.

The county COVID-19 call center is open during normal office hours. People who have questions or concerns can call (209) 533-7440 for information.

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

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