MENDOCINO Co., 8/7/21 — Since the beginning of August, Mendocino County has continued to experience a surge of new COVID-19 cases. Over the past week, 182 new cases have been reported, bringing the total to 4,892 cases. Public Health Officer Dr. Coren told reporters Friday that 16 people are currently hospitalized and seven are in the ICU. A 57-year-old Ukiah woman has been confirmed as the 53rd person to die from the virus in Mendocino County. It has been confirmed that one person who died from COVID last week had been fully vaccinated, though Dr. Coren noted that the person had “huge comorbidities” that likely contributed to their death.
Last week in response to the surge, Dr. Andrew Coren issued two new orders: universal masking for people regardless of vaccination status indoors in public settings beginning August 10 and an extension of a California Department of Public Health order mandating a vaccine or test policy to include Mendocino County Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and Law Enforcement. The full order regarding masking was released by Mendocino County Public Health on Friday and can be read below this article.
On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced all health care workers that work indoors near or in direct contact with patients must be vaccinated against the coronavirus by September 30, eliminating a prior option that let unvaccinated employees opt for regular testing unless they have qualifying medical reasons or decline based on religious beliefs.
Dr. Coren said daily cases numbers and hospitalization rates are approaching levels not seen since last winter. Unvaccinated people continue to make up 88% of cases countywide, 99% of symptomatic cases and 95% of hospitalizations. Unvaccinated people who have had COVID are twice as likely to become reinfected than vaccinated people, according to a new CDC report. The study found that vaccination offers additional protection, greater than their own natural immunity, against reinfection for those who have had the virus.
The surge is due to the Delta variant, which accounts for 93% of all COVID cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). California is seeing a steady uptick in cases and the Delta variant in Mendocino County has been confirmed by whole genome sequencing.
“COVID Delta variant is a different virus and it is swarming through our community with increased cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Our hospitals are beginning to show some stressing in staffing,” Cored said. He added that they are seeing younger people with symptomatic COVID infections, but no so far no children under 12 have been hospitalized for COVID.
The Delta variant has been found to have a viral load a thousand times greater than previous variants for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. While fully vaccinated people are more protected from hospitalization or death from the virus, the CDC now says the virus can be transmitted by those fully vaccinated even without symptoms. The CDC advises “fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.”
“The virus passes as quickly as the chickenpox, which is very very transmissible,” Public Health Officer Dr. Coren told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Coren encouraged employers to test their employees and that anyone who feels sick should stay home and get tested.
Countywide, Dr. Coren says there has been a recent increase in the number of people getting tested and vaccinated. “They realize the severity of this pandemic,” he said. “People are realizing that the vaccines are safe; friends and relatives are getting vaccines and that people who are vaccinated are protected. I think people’s defenses against the vaccine are coming down a little bit.” As of Friday, 61.6% of eligible Mendocino County residents have been fully vaccinated. An additional 9.3% of those eligible have received at least one dose.
Dr. Coren says Public Health wants to avoid shutting down businesses and schools but is relying on individuals to get vaccinated and employers to implement testing and vaccination policies to slow the spread and prevent another shutdown. For employers and employees unsure about how to enforce the return of universal masking, Coren says enforcement should be by educating customers through signs and conversation, not penalizing people. “No shirt, no shoes, no mask, we don’t serve you,” he suggested.
As for large events, Dr. Coren hopes that by meeting with organizers, clear guidelines such as masking and appropriate physical distancing can be implemented on a case-by-case basis. Some recent local events have already required proof of vaccination or a recent test, or included pop-up testing or vaccination sites for attendees. However, Coren is concerned by events that create “high-risk conditions” by bringing large groups of people together.
Above all, Mendocino County Public Health wants to avoid another shutdown. “It’s not good for our people psychologically as a community,” Coren said. “If we can encourage the people and the organizers in our community to take appropriate precautions, I think we have a good chance of turning this around without having industrial shutdowns like we did last winter. Now I think there’s been a lot of education and we just have to see if the organizers and the participants do the right thing.”
Here’s the press release from Mendocino County Public Health on the county’s 53 death from COVID:
Public Notice: Mendocino County Public Health has been notified of another Mendocino County resident who has been lost to the COVID-19 Virus. We send our condolences to her family and friends.
A 57 year old Ukiah woman has been confirmed as Mendocino County’s 53rd death. At this time Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to exercise caution when placing themselves in situations that could expose them to COVID-19, especially considering the new more infectious Delta variant. Mendocino County Public Health asks that you follow all CDC and CDPH guidance’s at this time. Vaccination, masking and social distancing remain the best options for combating the Covid-19 Virus.County of Mendocino press release, August 6, 2021.
Here is the order from Mendocino County Public Health mandating masking in indoor public areas, regardless of vaccination status effective August 10, 2021, followed by the full video of the August 6 press conference:HO-Face-Covering-Order