COVID CASES ON THE RISE ON THE COAST
by William Miller, MD – Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital
As we start into the holiday season, we all need to be mindful that this pandemic is spread when we let down our guard and take off our masks. This is the reason that family get togethers should be avoided this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Similarly, we should not define our social bubble to include our co-works at work. I have seen several examples of where co-workers in a local business have their masks off when together and only put them on when a customer walks up. This is not safe behavior. No one is immune and this includes staff of hospitals.
We have seen multiple out breaks amongst health care workers throughout California and it is usually not from getting it from patients, but from other healthcare workers when we go into a break room to relax and enjoy that cup of coffee or our lunch. We take off our mask and socialize with co-workers. This week we experienced this very same kind of outbreak here at our hospital. Four of our staff became sick over the weekend from the same department and three tested positive. All of the rest of the staff in the department are now being tested and we have done a thorough cleaning of the area. Fortunately, the department is a support one and does not provide direct patient care. We are using this as an opportunity to remind ourselves that we all need to wear our masks, including when we are with our co-workers.
I also wish to assure the community that we are being vigilant about this pandemic and continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that the care you receive at our hospital is a safe one.
Lastly, I again urge all of us to have our holiday celebrations this year be virtual ones and not in person.
Local Community Screening. I got an update from Dr. Coran, our Mendocino County Health Officer, on the status of community surveillance testing, which has been renamed community screening. As reported previously, UCSF abruptly canceled its free testing program to our county. As a result, the County is working with the State to expand the OptumServ program. Testing is now being offered seven days a week at the Fairgrounds in Ukiah. Testing will soon be expanded to the Coast and other outlying communities using traveling teams administering the OptumServ test. We expect to have testing available in these areas once a week. At this time there is no start date set for this, but the hope is that it may be as soon as the first week in December.
Correction. Last week, I reported incorrectly that the FDA had approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. What happened was that the two pharmaceutical companies had completed their Phase 3 Trials and applied for emergency approval. The FDA is expected to likely grant this approval soon, however, has not done so at this time. Possibly, it will be by mid-December. There is a balance between wanting to get such a vaccine out as soon as possible with also wanting to make sure it is both safe and effective. Pfizer has stated that they expect to be able to deliver up to 50 million doses of the vaccine by then end of 202 once they receive the go ahead from the FDA.