Calaveras County has seen its most accelerated week yet of new cases since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 11 cases confirmed and eight of those cases reported within a single day. The countywide count is now 40, with the majority of cases occurring in Valley Springs. 

The county health department reported the spike on Tuesday, with Health Officer Dean Kelaita, MD, warning residents that a dramatic increase in hospitalizations could overwhelm the system and reverse the reopening process in the county, similar to San Joaquin County, which was ordered by the state to re-close all bars over the weekend, along with six other counties

Despite repeated inquiries from the Enterprise, Calaveras County Public Health has not confirmed the number of hospitalizations that have occurred in the county, though one hospitalization was noted by the department on May 26. 

Some jurisdictions have routinely released their number of hospitalizations as public information, with Tuolumne County reporting one hospitalization out of 30 total confirmed cases 

There have been no COVID-19-related deaths reported in Calaveras County, and 16 cases have since recovered, according to Public Health. 

The following press release was issued by Calaveras County Public Health on Tuesday.

Calaveras Public Health is seeing an alarming and accelerating trend of community spread in the County. On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Calaveras Public Health reported eight additional cases of COVID-19. This is the single largest one-day case count in the County since the pandemic began.

“What we are seeing in Calaveras County is the beginning of a significant outbreak of COVID-19 in several regions of our community. Widespread community transmission is now taking place in the Valley Springs area, and other locations are also reporting increasing disease activity,” said Dr. Dean Kelaita, Calaveras County Health Officer. “If things continue at this rate, we are in very serious risk of overwhelming our local hospital and limited ICU capacity.”

Neighboring counties are seeing rapidly increasing coronavirus activity. San Joaquin County reported 294 new cases on Monday June 29th alone, with 3,856 total cases and 133 currently hospitalized. “This increased disease burden experienced in larger nearby counties is contributing to higher rates of infection among our populations traveling to these areas to work or shop,” stressed Dr. Kelaita. “Those infected in neighboring jurisdictions can bring the virus home and infect others around them.”

Due to high rates of COVID-19 infections, San Joaquin County was placed on a state of California watch list, and over the weekend, was ordered by the state to re-close all bars, and to better monitor mass gatherings. Public health officials attributed the rise in cases to social gatherings and people not adhering to coronavirus guidelines. They warned if hospitalizations reach surge capacity, more places and businesses could close up again.

“We are at an important moment in Calaveras County where we need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that have reopened must closely adhere to health directives. If you must be out, practice physical distancing and wear a cloth face covering at all times you are around others,” said Dr. Kelaita.

“Calaveras will be in a similar position as our neighbors if we don’t get a handle on this outbreak quickly”, said Dr. Kelaita. “As of now, I am not ordering any further closures, but additional community mitigation actions may be reintroduced if these disease trends continue”. A county Health Officer may impose orders that are directed at protecting the health of the public.

He went on to add that the simple and scientifically effective methods that the public can do prevent the transmission of coronavirus within our community are wearing a cloth face covering when going out in public, hand washing and using hand sanitizer, as well as maintaining physical distance of at least 6 feet between all non-household members at all times. Those at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 are encouraged to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. “If our community can do these simple actions every day, we can beat this pandemic and protect the most vulnerable members of our community”, Kelaita concluded.

The best way to avoid exposure to the virus is to:

• Stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your household

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

• Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth if you are in public and around other people

To date, Calaveras Public Health has reported forty confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those confirmed cases, seventeen cases have since recovered. There have been no reported deaths to COVID-19 in Calaveras County at this time.

Test Results Received 2437 Recovered 17 Deaths 0 TOTAL CONFIRMED CASES 40

Calaveras Public Health staff is investigating the new cases to determine any possible persons who may have had close personal contact with the positive individuals. Close contacts will be contacted by the health department, assessed and monitored for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 illness. Those with close contact may be recommended to be tested for COVID-19 infection. If you live in Calaveras County and get tested for COVID-19 and test positive, please call Calaveras Public Health at (209) 754-6460.

No-cost testing for COVID-19 is available to anyone who would like to get one. The OptumServe COVID-19 testing site located at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds is open Tuesday-Saturday from 7:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Testing is available to those age 12 and older. Walk-ins are not accepted at this time. People are highly encouraged to register online by going to www.lhi.care/covidtesting. People without internet access should call (888) 634-1123. Starting July 7, the testing site will expand its hours from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Tuesday-Saturday.

Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

• Fever or chills

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea or vomiting

• Diarrhea

COVID-19 case details will be updated on a weekly basis and will include age, gender, and location. To receive information and resources related to COVID-19 visit the Calaveras County COVID-19 website at https://covid19.calaverasgov.us. Follow Calaveras Public Health on Facebook www.facebook.com/calaveraspublichealth/

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