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)

There were two more COVID-19 deaths and 56 new cases from Saturday to Monday in Tuolumne County, while there were eight new cases in Calaveras County over the same period, public health agencies in Sonora and San Andreas said.

The two deceased individuals were identified as a woman in her 60s and a man in his 80s, both unvaccinated, according to Tuolumne County Public Health. No other information about the deaths, including when and where the individuals died, was disclosed.

Out of 56 new cases in Tuolumne County, eight individuals were vaccinated. There were 223 active cases Monday in Tuolumne County, including six individuals who were hospitalized with COVID-19.

As of Monday evening, Tuolumne County Public Health had counted 105 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began early last year. More than 30 of those deaths had occurred since Aug. 1, when delta variant cases began surging in the Mother Lode. Two of the county’s 105 confirmed coronavirus deaths were people who had been fully vaccinated when they died. The remaining 103 were unvaccinated.

Deaths of unvaccinated individuals in Tuolumne County in the past two months have included  people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. The two people who were fully vaccinated and died were in their 80s and 90s. Calaveras County has counted 74 coronavirus deaths since early last year. Calaveras Public Health does not disclose vaccination status of new cases or deaths.

Vaccination data compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 57.6% of Tuolumne County’s population fully vaccinated as of Monday afternoon, and 58.3% of Calaveras County’s population fully vaccinated.

Tuolumne County’s running average of cases for the past two weeks dropped to 38.8 per 100,000 residents on Monday, down from 39.2 on Friday.

New cases in Tuolumne County on Monday were identified as four girls and four boys under age 12; five girls and seven boys between 12 and 17; two women and seven men between 18 and 29; one woman and three men in their 30s; five women and four men in their 40s; one woman and one man in their 50s; a woman in her 60s; five women and three men in their 70s; and two women and one man in their 80s.

“There are positive actions that we can take to protect ourselves and those around us from illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19,” Tuolumne County Public Health said last week. “Vaccination is the most important step we can take to reduce the spread of disease, and reduce the impact to our healthcare system.”

In addition, wearing masks in public, keeping distance from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands, cleaning surfaces, and staying home when sick will help slow the spread of COVID-19, the agency said.

Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been approved for certain populations, primarily those who are age 65 and older and those at higher risk. Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for booster shots for now. They are intended only for those who completed their Pfizer vaccination series at least six months earlier,  Tuolumne County Public Health said in September.

Local health authorities are sharing federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots:

• People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.

• People ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.

• People ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

• People ages 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

The county Public Health Department says upcoming clinics and appointments can be accessed at MyTurn: https://myturn.ca.gov/ or by calling (833) 422-4255. Some pharmacies and healthcare providers are also providing vaccinations.

“Being fully vaccinated lowers your risk of severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19,” Calaveras Public Health said last month. “People should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID. It has not yet been shown how long you are protected from getting COVID again after you recover from COVID. Vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID.”

A Calaveras Public Health mobile vaccination van is now offering free COVID-19 testing. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“Please bring health insurance information if available,” the agency stated. “If you're uninsured, the government pays for your test.”

Register to reduce wait times at https://bit.ly/3wpNEUU online. People who do not have internet access can register at the site.

The largest testing site in Tuolumne County, at Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, is supposed to be open seven days a week. The testing 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. Testing is no longer available at Tuolumne Veterans Memorial Hall.

Testing appointments can be scheduled online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (888) 634-1123. Testing is also available through Adventist Health Rapid Care and the hospital emergency department if you are experiencing symptoms.

Flu shot clinics hosted by the Tuolumne County Public Health Department are being planned between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. this Wednesday at Sierra Bible Church off Tuolumne Road, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13, at 1890 Main St. in Groveland. Tuolumne County Public Health will also offer flu shots 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Call (209) 533-7401 to make appointments.

Anyone 12 and older is eligible for the COVID vaccine. Individuals may register for notification of upcoming clinics and schedule appointments on MyTurn at https://myturn.ca.gov/ or by calling (833) 422-4255. For information on the various avenues to obtain a vaccination in Tuolumne County, visit www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1317/COVID-Vaccine online.

For information and guidance on isolation and quarantine, visit https://bit.ly/3sf3bGM online.

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.

• The Safeway pharmacy: register at mhealthsystem.com/3127tuolumne or call (209) 533-7812.

• The 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 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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