WILLITS, 3/29/20 — Mendocino County now has it’s fourth confirmed case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Information on the person is sparse, in keeping with medical privacy regulations, but what do know is that they live inland and their getting the disease appears to have been travel related. The person is in isolation and in “stable condition.”
The fact that all four confirmed cases of the disease in Mendocino County have been associated with travel to areas where the disease is more pervasive is a sign that widespread community spread has come later to Mendocino than to other parts of the state. However, community spread is occurring in neighboring Sonoma County, meaning that the shelter-in-place order remains essential in keeping the virus from spreading widely here.
The term “community spread” (sometimes community transmission) means roughly that a diseases causing pathogen, like the coronavirus, has become widespread enough in a population that it becomes impossible to track down the source of a new infection. In contrast each of the cases of COVID-19 in Mendocino County has been traceable to a person having travel to an area with the virus is more widespread.
Indeed there is now mounting scientific evidence that California’s early and strict measures to limit the spread of the virus have had some success. Genetic analysis of the virus, and the variants of it present in California, indicate that most clusters of disease can be traced to repeated introduction of the virus from out-of-sate (as well as to a strain that’s endemic to healthcare workers who are being infected at very high rates), rather than from strains circulating widely within the state.
Sonoma County, with a population roughly 5.7 times larger than Mendocino, has recorded 58 cases of the disease, and one death. That county has also provided an extensive breakdown of cases by region, age group and sex, as well as data on hospitalization rate etc. That can be viewed at their “coronavirus dashboard” here.
In Sonoma County, people testing positive for the virus have had to be hospitalized at a rate of about 22%. Sonoma County is testing at a higher rate than Mendocino, but it’s also possible that in both counties there are some number of asymptomatic carriers, especially healthy young people, who may have the virus and are simply not being tested. In Sonoma Co. 83% of cases have been in people under 65 and 19% of cases have come from community spread. What’s more seven cases in Sonoma have been in their “north county” area which is from Windsor to Cloverdale. Some number of people who live in Mendocino County work in Sonoma in essential businesses or government services.
Humboldt County had, as of yesterday, 18 confirmed cases and one hospitalization, and community spread does not appear to be the reason for infection there either.
This data appears to indicate that the virus came later to the North Coast than to the Bay Area, and that the fairly extreme measures taken have been at least somewhat successful in “flattening the curve.”
Here is the press release from Mendocino County Public Health:
Health Officer Confirms Fourth Case of COVID-19
Post Date: 03/29/2020 5:53 PM
The Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan has confirmed a fourth case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mendocino County. Like the other three cases in Mendocino County, this case is thought to be travel related and does not appear to indicate community spread. The individual is from Inland Mendocino County, is in stable condition, in isolation at home with active public health monitoring, did not require hospitalization, and poses no risk to the public at this time.
Regarding the new COVID-19 case, Dr. Doohan stated, “Public Health was notified this afternoon of a fourth COVID-19 case. This person is on home isolation, doing well and does not pose a risk to the public. The individual is being actively monitored by public health along with their primary healthcare provider. The healthcare facility where this case was identified used proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and handled this case in an exemplary manner that protected their healthcare workers, staff and patients from exposure.”
Like the third case, this individual was identified through the Public Health Lab system in coordination with our healthcare providers. Across the nation, the current situation for COVID-19 testing is highly problematic due to shortages of the test sampling materials and limited testing capacity. In response to this challenge, Mendocino County Public Health has developed a process for facilitating COVID-19 testing for our healthcare partners. Currently, the Mendocino County Public Health department can facilitate testing through our affiliated Public Health lab, located in Santa Rosa. Given the current restricted access to COVID-19 testing supplies and resources, the testing that Public Health facilitates is upon request by healthcare partners such as clinics and hospitals for symptomatic patients from the following categories: healthcare workers, public safety personnel, people of high public health risk (nursing home residents, incarcerated people, homeless), high risk exposure (due to travel or contact) and emergency room and hospitalized patients in whom the test result will change management of the patient.
Anyone who is tested for COVID-19 MUST remain in isolation until further directed by their clinician who ordered the test. People who are sick and being evaluated for COVID-19 can spread the disease unless they stay in isolation away from other people.
The Public Health facilitation of COVID-19 testing is a top priority so that our healthcare partners can increase testing efficiency and ensure that individuals most at risk can be tested promptly.
Below are the COVID-19 testing numbers as of March 29, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.
Public Health Lab:
- Negatives: 42
- Positives: 2
- Pending: 14
Commercial Lab (Quest):
- Negatives: 101
- Positives: 2
- Pending: 28
- Total: 131
Of the four positive cases, one has recovered fully and three are in active public health monitoring and following Center for Disease Control home isolation guidance.