Tuolumne County Pfizer vaccine

A photo of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that the Tuolumne County Public Health Department received on Dec. 16.

Requests for the COVID-19 vaccine are overwhelming the call center for the Tuolumne County Public Health Department, which is asking people to follow its website and local media for information about when they will be able to get their dose.

The department made the request in a daily update that reported the county had 59 new cases on Wednesday, including 38 inmates at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown and 21 among community members outside of the prison.

“We currently do not have a registry for phases beyond 1a, and we continue our planning as we await further guidance and delivery of vaccine,” the department stated. “Our call center has been overwhelmed with individual requests and as we are not yet through Phase 1a, we are directing folks to stay tuned for further updates.”

All of the vaccines the county has currently received — 975 doses from Pfizer and 600 from Moderna, some of which went to Mariposa County — have been administered to people that fall under “Phase 1a,” which includes health care workers and people who are residents of long-term care facilities.

Another shipment of 975 Pfizer vaccines doses were anticipated to arrive this week, though they will be administered to those who already received one because both vaccines require two doses.

People that will fall under “Phase 1b” are expected to include anyone 75 or older, people 65 to 74 with underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable, and frontline essential workers, such as firefighters, police, and teachers.

“As we proceed through the tiers of Phase 1a and begin to prepare for Phase 1b, we will update our website and inform the public of how, where, and when they can expect to get vaccinated,” the department said.

The department’s website with vaccine information can be found at: https://www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1317/COVID-Vaccine.

All of the 21 new community cases reported on Wednesday appeared to be isolating at home, the department said, though two SCC inmates were hospitalized.

A total of four county residents were listed by the department as currently hospitalized for COVID-19, the same number as Tuesday’s update, but the state’s data dashboard showed 11 people were hospitalized for the virus at Adventist Health Sonora on Tuesday.

Neither the hospital nor the department has directly answered questions from The Union Democrat about whether any COVID-19 patients from outside of the county were being treated at Adventist Health Sonora.

The 12-county San Joaquin Valley region that includes Tuolumne and Calaveras remained under a regional stay-at-home order on Wednesday due to an available capacity of intensive care units of 0%. Regions are placed under a stay-at-home order when they fall below 15%. 

Dr. Eric Sergienko, the interim health officer for Tuolumne County, said on Tuesday that the state will lift the order when a projection shows a region’s available ICU capacity rising above 15% within four weeks. However, he also said current modeling projects the San Joaquin Valley region will still be below 15% at least four weeks from now.

State data showed all six of Adventist Health Sonora’s licensed ICU beds were full on Tuesday, two of which were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The county’s death toll remained at 22 on Wednesday, with the most recent death reported earlier this week as a man in his 80s. Thirteen of the total deaths occurred in the month of December alone amidst a surge in cases, while eight occurred from March to November.

Since the pandemic began, the county has tallied 1,966 confirmed cases and 1,806 have recovered. There were 138 active cases as of Wednesday.

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

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