Sonoma County Approves 1,000 COVID-19 Cases

A few hours before Sonoma County approved 1,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the county health official on Thursday showed cautious optimism about the ability to mitigate the spread of the disease and save lives, even after a 40% increase in local cases for the past two weeks

Mase said the milestone was arbitrary and what he is most concerned about is the increase in the average rate at which confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase over a 14-day period.

“I don’t know if I would win as much as 1,000 (cases). It’s just a number, but I’d look more at the trend, “he said.

The county crossed the threshold Thursday night, announcing 32 new cases, totaling 1,006 since the pandemic appeared locally in early March.

That trend shows a significant increase in the county’s COVID-19 case rate, the number of confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. About five weeks ago, that rate was around 20 cases per 100,000 people, and three weeks ago it increased to 40, she said.

Now, it’s approaching 60 cases per 100,000 residents. The rate is one of several metrics that county health officials are using to track and adjust their response to the pandemic. Other metrics include hospitalization rates, availability of intensive care beds, test capacity, and local positivity rate, or the proportion of all tests that result in confirmed cases.

On five of those metrics: case rates, increasing hospitalizations, limited hospital capacity, average weekly test volume, and skilled nursing facility cases, the county is now out of step with benchmarks geared toward its reopening roadmap.

Those benchmarks, established during the county’s early response to the virus, are more rigorous than the latest state criteria for measuring the local public health response to the virus. For example, the county benchmark for cases per 100,000 residents is just over 25, while the state sets it at 100.

Mase said he watches over county and state thresholds.

“We are not just using a benchmark, we are using a combination of different things that we are seeing,” he said.

Almost half of Sonoma County cases are active, with approximately 10% of patients hospitalized.

Earlier this week, a recent outbreak at an unidentified local skilled nursing facility was partly to blame for the spike in infections reported Monday, when county health officials added 50 new cases, a one-day record. and a sharp jump even above the previous maximum. marks Sunday, when 32 cases emerged.

Similar trends are being reported across the state and nation as evidence expands, but also as the reopening fuels a broader and faster spread of the contagion.

As of Wednesday, 18 cases of coronavirus have been reported in local skilled nursing facilities since June 1. Of these, 13 were among residents, local health officials said.

Mase on Thursday declined to name the skilled nursing facility with the recent outbreak. But according to data from the state Department of Public Health, Broadway Villa Post Acute, a skilled nursing and therapeutic facility in Sonoma, informed the state Wednesday that 11 of its residents had tested positive for COVID-19.

The center reported on June 10 that at least one staff member had tested positive, and on Monday informed the state that the death of one of its residents was linked to COVID-19, a man over 65 who was the fifth death. by coronavirus in the county.

Mike Empey, CEO of Broadway Villa, has not responded to several phone calls and emails this week seeking comment, with no response again on Thursday.

Mase said staying on top of these outbreaks will be crucial as the county continues the transition from general public health restrictions to a freer economy with pandemic preventive measures. The county’s previous success in flattening the curve and suppressing the spread of the virus has led to a low number of hospitalizations.

“At the moment, we have and I am really grateful for that,” she said.

Mase emphasized the need for more people to search for evidence. The county has a population of nearly half a million, but only slightly more than 40,000 people have been evaluated, he said, with a daily volume of about 550 to 600 tests.

“The testing capacity is there,” he said. “It is more because people are not taking advantage of the tests that are offered.

A higher volume of test results will allow public health researchers to better predict what will happen later in the summer, he said.

Mase said people should use their judgment to determine how often they should be tested. If someone feels they may have been exposed, they can be tested again, she said.

“If they went to a restaurant and they only worried because there were a lot of people there. . . . maybe not everyone was wearing face covers that were working, so that could be a reason to get tested, “he said.

You can contact the editor Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or [email protected] On Twitter @pressreno.