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)

Tuolumne County was back in range of being placed on California’s COVID-19 monitoring list on Friday, while Calaveras County had its largest increase of cases in a single reporting period and first nursing home resident to test positive.

The seven new cases in Tuolumne County brought its 14-day running total to 56 and total since the beginning of the pandemic to 141, with three people hospitalized, 15 in isolation and 121 recovered as of Friday.

To remain off the list, the county must have less than 53 new cases over a two-week period. Being on the list means additional types of businesses and activities would no longer be allowed, including in-person learning at schools.

Calaveras County identified 17 new cases between Tuesday and Friday, though its 14-day running total of 38 new cases meant that it was still safe from qualifying to be placed on the monitoring list.

One of the new cases is an elderly female resident at Avalon Health Care in San Andreas, while either others were people between the ages of 18 and 49.

An investigation is underway involving Calaveras County Public Health staff and Avalon infection control representatives to determine the source of the infection and whether any other residents or staff were infected, a news release stated.

Administrators at the nursing home told the public health department that it appears to be an isolated case and didn’t spread to other residents.

“Outbreaks in nursing homes can be devastating to the high risk residents who live there,” said Dr. Dean Kelaita, health officer for Calaveras County. “We need everyone to help us protect Calaveras from COVID-19 as we wait for new treatments and a vaccine. 

“The best way to do that is to ensure that local businesses and our community work together to keep each other healthy – wear a face covering, get tested, wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and practice physical distancing.” 

Kelaita added that individuals gathering with other people outside of their household puts the community at risk of furthering the spread of the virus.

Ten staff members at Avalon Care Center in Sonora tested positive earlier this month, though no additional cases were reported after regular testing of both residents and staff.

Tuolumne County school districts announced on Thursday that they would start the fall semester next month with distance learning until at least September or October because of the upward trajectory of cases in recent weeks.

Schools would not be allowed to resume in-person learning until the county remains off the state’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days.

The county first qualified for the list on July 23, when the number of new cases over the previous weeks was 57, and stayed under the limit for two consecutive days prior to Friday.

However, the county on Friday had yet to officially appear on the list. The local public health department said that was likely due to delays in labs reporting positive results to the state’s case tracking system, as well as delays in reporting case numbers on the state’s website.

“We do not know when the state will put us on the monitoring ‘watch list’, but will continue to provide updates as we receive more information,” the department said.

The county started the week on Monday reporting its first two deaths from the virus, a man in his 60s with no known health problems and another man in his 80s with some underlying conditions.

Calaveras County had its first and only death from the virus a week earlier on July 20, a man older than 65 with underlying conditions, though it had no people hospitalized as of Friday.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 768-5175.

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