UPDATE 10:45 p.m. — Since publication of this article an additional 12 cases were announced, with 7 people now hospitalized, 4 of those in ICU.
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There will be no press conference from Dr. Doohan tomorrow, instead she will participate in a town hall with Congressman Jared Huffman.
WILLITS, 7/16/20 — New restrictions will be coming to Mendocino County beginning Friday night, as the spike in COVID infections continues, and the county is more than likely to be placed on the state watchlist of COVID hotspots. Per Governor Gavin Newsom’s new orders of Monday, which closed indoor dining and bars statewide, counties that stay on the watchlist for three consecutive days will have additional restrictions including the closure of gyms and nail salons, hair salons and barbershops, other “personal care services,” offices for non-essential industries, as well as indoor public worship.
Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan said in a press release yesterday that she would issue the order tonight, however, in brief interview a county spokesperson said that it was more likely the new health order would come out tomorrow. Either way it is likely to go into effect tomorrow night, Friday, at 11:59 p.m. The order may actually preempt the placement of Mendo on the watchlist, but the health officer has deemed it a necessary step in slow the surge of new cases.
With these impending changes and the swift pace of events, it’s no longer clear what the best course of action will be for schools, or even if they will be allowed to reopen. Additional Doohan has spoken out against reopening. As such, though the Ukiah Unified School Board opted for a “hybrid plan” including in person class for students two days a week, only Tuesday, they are reconsidering this approach. In a Facebook post the district said:
“As expected, the COVID situation is changing rapidly in Mendocino County. The board is considering the new data and is talking with health and education experts. We will notify parents and the community as soon as any adjustments are made to our back-to-school plans. Thank you for your understanding and patience.”UUSD
“It is my opinion that it is not safe to open schools for normal operations in the Fall. The safest direction to take for our children is to plan for distance learning in the Fall. If the schools decide to pursue a hybrid model which complies with State guidance on school reopening, I will do everything in my power to support this school planning.”Noemi Doohan
Due to the nature of exponential growth, small numbers can lead to much larger ones very quickly, and the focus of these efforts is on reducing the quick spread of the disease so as to not overwhelm local hospitals. In the press release officials noted that, “all data [is] pointing to this being the early stages of surge which will worsen in the coming months.”
As of yesterday evening the cumulative case count stood at 165, though more notably six people had been hospitalized, one was confirmed dead. The outbreak at the Sherwood Oaks nursing home now includes five residents and two workers. Other businesses across the county have announced infections in workers, including the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op grocery store, which announced to customers via social media that the store would close briefly for deep cleaning as a precaution. Sixty-six people are now in isolation with the disease and varying levels of symptoms, and an additional 123 are quarantined due to exposure to infected people, most of those close contacts and family.
Health Officer COVID-19 Update – July 15, 2020
Post Date: 07/15/2020 9:39 PM
Today Mendocino County was informed of our first COVID-19 related death—Mr. George Chadwick (14th case) by his daughter-in-law Mary Chadwick. Mr. Chadwick died in a Marin County outpatient rehabilitation facility, after being hospitalized at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Hospital with COVID-19. As his passing was in another county, the family received the death certificate first and informed Mendocino County that COVID-19 is listed as a cause of death. Mendocino County will request the death certificate from Marin County tomorrow morning. Mendocino County mourns the passing of Mr. Chadwick and celebrates his life along with his family and community. He was a well-loved community member that touched many lives. Mary wrote to Health Officer Dr. Doohan, “Our dad was amazing! He left quite a legacy!”
The announcement of Mendocino County’s first COVID-19 death comes at a time when 6 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across all 3 Adventist Hospitals in Mendocino County, an outbreak at Sherwood Oaks Skilled Nursing home in Fort Bragg is rapidly evolving (5 residents and 2 employees) and the total number of cases countywide reached 165 with 66 in active isolation and 123 in active quarantine. Regarding the hospitalizations, Jason Wells CEO of our local Adventist Health hospitals stated, “We currently have six patients between our three hospitals and for the first time all three hospitals have COVID positive patients at the same time. Our teams have been training for this for months and we are at our best when we are bringing the essential care our community needs. I could not be more proud of the exceptional nurses, physicians, housekeepers and support teams who are all heroes in my book. We are ready for this.” Of the hospitalizations 2 are at the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast Hospital, 3 at Howard Memorial Hospital and 1 at Adventist Health Ukiah Hospital.
On July 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health announced a new State Order with restrictions that apply to ALL 58 counties for bars, restaurants and other indoor business operations as part of statewide actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Following this announcement Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan issued revised orders aligning our local orders with the new statewide restrictions. The Governor also directed counties that remain on the county monitoring list for 3 consecutive days (32 counties) will be required to close indoor operations for more sectors due to risk of spread. Based on the recent surge in Mendocino County cases and hospitalizations, it is likely that Mendocino County will be added to the monitoring list in the next 48 hours. Dr. Doohan will issue a revised order requiring additional shut downs of activities that are currently applied to monitoring list counties on Thursday, July 16 with an effective date of July 17 at 11:59pm. The upcoming revised Health Order will require the following industries to shut down unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up: Fitness centers; worship services; offices for non-essential sectors; personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors; hair salons and barbershops, and malls. Dr. Doohan, Mendocino County Health Officer stated, “for six months the County and our partners have been tirelessly preparing for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 in our rural county. We have flattened the curve and slowed the spread and given the hospitals and clinics and health care partners the time to prepare, now the virus is here and we must respond with strength and wisdom based on fact and science. Our placement on the State monitoring list is imminent and in order to retain local control, I am choosing to act ahead of the Governor by imposing the State monitoring list restrictions on Mendocino County in the next 48 hours”.
In addition, given the current surge of COVID-19 cases in Mendocino County, with all data pointing to this being the early stages of surge which will worsen in the coming months, Dr. Doohan made the following statement regarding school reopening in the Fall, “It is my opinion that it is not safe to open schools for normal operations in the Fall. The safest direction to take for our children is to plan for distance learning in the Fall. If the schools decide to pursue a hybrid model which complies with State guidance on school reopening, I will do everything in my power to support this school planning.” In response to school reopening efforts and the recent increase in cases, County CEO Carmel J. Angelo stated, “given our recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases, increased hospitalizations over the last 24 hours and imminent placement on the State monitoring list, I believe our local school district should consider continuing to utilize distance learning and suspend onsite education for the time being to ensure the safety of our children, teachers and staff.”
In light of the recent surge in cases and increase use of surveillance testing sites by residents displaying symptoms, Dr. Doohan will be issuing orders to supplement the Blanket Isolation and Quarantine Orders to require Health Officer orders for Isolation (10 days) or Quarantine (14 days) to be given to people who come for free testing at OptumServe or other free testing sites who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are close contacts of known cases.
With cases on the rise it is vital every resident remember to wear facial coverings, do not engage in gatherings, practice good hygiene, stay home when sick and maintain 6 feet between yourself and others when you are outside of your home. Many of the recent cases are believed to be from informal gatherings around the 4th of July holiday. Please remember gatherings of any size are not allowed.