The following is press release issued by the County of Mendocino:
On January 8th, Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren provided a coronavirus update.
In Mendocino County, daily cases are averaging at 32.29 individuals per 100,000 residents. The total number of cases is 2,751, with over 50 new cases on Monday, January 4th. Of the total cases, 1,463 members of the Latino community are infected with the virus. Thirty-one people have died, 300 are in isolation and 312 individuals are quarantined.
Locally, 15 individuals are hospitalized, with 14 in Medical/Surgical units and one person in intensive care. Three people are hospitalized outside of Mendocino County.
“The ongoing surge pushed Southern California hospitals to the brink, with patients waiting in ambulances for hours for evaluation,” says Dr. Coren. “With no available ICU beds, patients are placed on regular units, and staff-to-patient ratios are impacted.”
A burgeoning shortage of oxygen is another grave indicator of the California’s precarious situation.
“The Army Corps of Engineers are working on this. The National Guard is helping with staffing. It’s not just Covid patients receiving lower levels of care. People with heart problems, strokes, injuries or appendicitis cannot receive care. Elective surgeries are cancelled in crisis conditions,” he continues.
Southern California has no available ICU beds. Sonoma County currently has 3.5% of ICU bed availability. Even though Mendocino County has 31% of available beds today, that number represents a mere 5 available beds countywide.
In addition to the State’s Regional Stay-at-Home order, on January 6th, the California Department of Public Health released a new statewide Travel Advisory.
“Californians should avoid non-essential travel of more than 120 miles from home, and avoid travel to or from other states or countries. The state is discouraging non-essential travelers from entering California. Travelers entering California should quarantine for ten days, except those needed for urgent critical healthcare staffing or emergency response needs,” Dr. Coren explains.
The virus has mutated. The new variant is more contagious and may have given rise to Southern California’s surge. “Thus far, it’s not resistant to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.”
The county is addressing an employee outbreak at the Willits Safeway, and another small outbreak at Mayacama Industries. The largest outbreak in the county is at the jail, consisting of 80 inmates and 7 staff.
“This is a rolling infection in a congregate setting, despite aggressive testing and separation of positive patients and close contacts. The Sheriff is making efforts to decrease the inmate population to enable separation to different blocks.”
Dr. Coren stresses the majority of infections arise from close-contact interactions at family get togethers, multi-household interactions, mingling inside breakrooms and close-up eating and drinking.
“With the holidays complete, we expect numbers to rise in the upcoming weeks.”
The county has requested additional state workers to assist with contact tracing. COVID-19 testing continues seven days per week from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah. Testing is available in Fort Bragg at the Veterans Hall every Tuesday from 9:00-5:00 pm. “Color Tests” are being implemented in several county clinics, and Dr. Coren encourages schools to apply for and administer color tests to staff.
Mendocino County was one of the first in the state to develop and implement a mass vaccination program.
“These were planned to scale up safely, efficiently and with attention to equity considerations required by the California Department of Public Health. We’re now holding mass vaccination clinics 2-3 days weekly,” says Dr. Coren, noting that 284 individuals were vaccinated on January 7th.
“We’re dramatically increasing the number of people we’re vaccinating, but our ability to increase depends on the timing and numbers of vaccines we receive,” he notes. “We are partnering with our community clinics and plan to assist with distribution to their communities.”
Dr. Coren addressed the freezer malfunction at Adventist Health Ukiah.
“We partnered with Adventist Health for vaccine storage while waiting for the county’s freezer to arrive and achieve a stable temperature. On Monday, January 4th, we received notice that the hospital had a freezer problem. With support from Public Health and the City of Ukiah, 830 Moderna vaccines were administered in 2 hours.”
The vaccines were distributed by the hospital.
“Vaccine was provided to the Sheriff’s Department. The Jail’s medical team vaccinated Jail staff, Probation Officers, Public Health and Juvenile Hall staff. Vaccine was taken to the Ukiah Conference Center where it was administered by paramedics. City of Ukiah emergency personnel and other EMS workers assisted with the provision of the vaccine. Three local nursing homes also received doses,” says Dr. Coren.
“This occurred during a Mass Vaccination clinic at the Fairgrounds, yet by working together, we provided large numbers of vaccines in a very short time at a number of locations.”
The county continues its commitment to rigorously follow State guidance on ethical, equitable vaccine distribution. This guidance determines the phases and tiers that outline when people may receive a vaccine. “Some situations may create legitimate reasons to temporarily depart from the tier structure. For that reason, the state recommends the formation of a diverse ad-hoc committee to provide guidance on addressing tier issues,” Dr. Coren explains.
The names of the committee members are confidential to ensure those individuals are not pressured by or subject to undue influence. “They will help us ethically and responsibly address the next vaccine phases and tiers.” The county is also developing a vaccine tracking infographic which will be available on the COVID-19 page of the website, so that numbers of vaccines received and distributed can be viewed by the public.
To assist with reopening schools, the State is offering technical assistance and funding for testing and other needs.
“We understand teachers, bus drivers, maintenance personnel, cafeteria and clerical staff are all necessary and all at risk. We are pushing vaccines out as quickly as possible so we can begin vaccinating school personnel in the very near future.”
Dr. Coren urges the community to consider volunteering to help with COVID-19 mitigation. Many volunteer opportunities are available. Registration may be completed through the North Coast Opportunities website.
“Increase your diligence using masks, continue to social distance, maintain hygiene, avoid all gatherings with anyone outside your household, and now, per state guidance, limit all travel to local, necessary trips,” he concludes.
For more information about Mendocino County’s COVID-19 response, available resources and other information, please visit the county’s COVID-19 page, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The county’s Call Center is staffed from 8:30-5:00 PM Monday through Friday at (707) 472-2759.