Tier map

Tuolumne County had seven new coronavirus cases on Monday after reporting 95 over the weekend and was moved into the purple tier, the most restrictive under California’s ranking system for COVID-19 risk.

There were 223 active cases and six people who tested positive were hospitalized as of Monday evening, according to a daily update released by the county Public Health Department.

The new cases announced Monday were identified as a male and female under age 20; a woman in her 20s; a woman and man in their 30s; and two men in their 60s.

The department also said the county’s case rate of 31.4 per 100,000 people as reported by the state on Monday was “extremely high” and twice the statewide case rate.

“Our test positivity rate has also had a steep increase, with much testing and an approximate 10 percent test positivity rate,” the department said. “Because it is evident that we have community transmission in the county, we advise the public to stay home except for essential needs. In addition, it is vital for individuals who are having symptoms to stay home and avoid going to work or school.”

The move to the purple tier aims to slow the rapid spread of the virus, 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 are in effect beginning 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, how to stay in compliance with safety measures, and information about protecting small businesses is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday. To register and join the meeting visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_l_hwTeYwRBugXKva_uEwAw.

“As positive cases in schools increase, some schools may have to close cohorts or classes for distance learning for a period of time due to staffing shortages or out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all staff and students,” the department said. “If your child’s school or class has been moved to distance learning and you have not been told directly by your school that your child is a close contact or have not heard from public health, it is very likely that your child is not a close contact and there is no need to quarantine.”

There have been 569 total cases of COVID-19 in Tuolumne County since March, with 323 individuals recovered and eight deaths.

There had been more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 in California and 18,260 deaths statewide as of Monday afternoon. Nationally, the pandemic had resulted in more than 11.1 million confirmed cases and contributed to the deaths of more than 247,100 Americans.

The state 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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