Coronavirus cell

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID/TNS)

The Mother Lode added two more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, while Tuolumne County had 137 new cases and Calaveras County had 103 new cases, public health authorities in Sonora and San Andreas said.

The person who died in Tuolumne County was identified as a man in his 70s, and the person who died in Calaveras County was identified as a woman in her 50s. No other information was provided about their deaths.

As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 158 Tuolumne County deaths had been attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020. Calaveras County’s coronavirus death toll rose to 97.

Active cases in Tuolumne County increased Tuesday to 799, up from 785 active cases on Monday. Tuesday’s active cases included 11 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19.

Also Tuesday, the daily case rate in Tuolumne County decreased slightly to 172.5 per 100,000 residents averaged over the previous two weeks. That was down from 174.8 per 100,000 on Monday.

Tuesday’s case total in Tuolumne County, included one inmate case at the Sierra Conservation Center state prison outside Jamestown. Inmate cases have accounted for 21% of the county’s total cases since the pandemic began in early 2020.

The 136 new community cases in Tuolumne County on Tuesday were identified as 13 girls and seven boys under age 12; 10 girls and seven boys between 12 and 17; nine women and 12 men between 18 and 29; 14 women and four men in their 30s; nine women and seven men in their 40s; 12 women and five men in their 50s; nine women and seven men in their 60s; three women and five men in their 70s; one woman in her 80s; and two women age 90 or older.

The Tuolumne County Public Health Department has stopped reporting vaccination status of cases on a daily basis “due to the surge in cases and still evolving change in definitions in vaccination status,” its staff said in early January.

The COVID-19 testing site at Mother Lode Fairgrounds off Stockton Road in Sonora is supposed to be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 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.

Booster shots are now available and recommended for everyone 12 years old and older, with Pfizer boosters only for ages 12 to 17, Tuolumne County Public Health said Tuesday. Pfizer or Moderna are recommended booster shots. You are eligible for a booster if you completed your initial series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations at least five months ago, or if you got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Tuolumne County Public Health continued reminding people Tuesday their COVID response team is still doing case investigations and contact tracing. They are so swamped with new cases this week they are talking about the use of so-called virtual agents.

“Due to the large increase in cases that we are experiencing, we will not reach everyone,” the agency stated Tuesday. “If you receive a positive test result, you will likely receive a text from a ‘virtual agent’ to make contact and provide some information on what to do next.”

County public health tips Tuesday included:

• You can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by responding to texts, calls, or emails, and self-isolating when you have symptoms or a positive test result. Also notify any close contacts you’ve had from two days before you became ill or got tested.

• Any close contacts should follow current quarantine guidance and get tested three to five days after exposure.

• If you are at high risk of severe disease or hospitalization, you can contact your doctor to discuss potential treatment options. If you are not symptomatic, have not tested positive for COVID-19 recently, and are not in quarantine, get vaccinated or boosted.

Testing

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.

Vaccinations

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

• Homebound residents in Tuolumne County can contact health@tuolumnecounty.ca.gov 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 gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.