(TNS) - Large spikes in coronavirus cases are hitting Stanislaus County, Calif., resulting in the highest number of hospitalizations since the outbreak began in March.
The county reported a record one-day total of 102 confirmed cases Sunday, pushing the total count to 1,212. The county surpassed 900 cases only a week ago. The death toll on Sunday remained at 34.
During a five-day span in the past week, the county averaged 41 new cases per day.
According to state data, there were 62 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illness in the five hospitals in Stanislaus County, compared to coronavirus-related hospitalization numbers in the 30s or 40s in previous weeks.
That’s more than the current hospitalizations in Santa Clara County, which was once the largest coronavirus hot spot in the Bay Area.
Top officials with Stanislaus County’s emergency operations center were to meet Monday afternoon to talk about the spikes and possible action, said Kristin Olsen, chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors.
County health officials are considering an order making face coverings mandatory when people are out in public. An announcement is expected in one or two days.
The local cases have spiked since the county was approved for a state variance May 20 for reopening restaurant dining and shopping centers. The county has since allowed reopening of certain recreational activities, hair salons, fitness centers, bars and other commercial businesses.
The county started to apply the brakes Friday. Its Health Services Agency announced the county would not immediately follow through with allowing personal services, such as nail salons and tattoo shops, to resume business, even though the state has given approval for those sectors.
The county will consider allowing those businesses as early as July 1, but the decision will be based on the prevalence of COVID-19 disease.
“As we have said from the beginning, we need to re-open slowly and methodically so that we can stay on top of our local data and ensure that our hospitalization rates remain manageable,” Olsen said in a statement Friday. “While we look forward to these businesses re-opening, we must act responsibly and wait a couple of weeks while we monitor the impacts of what has already re-opened.”
Olsen said Monday that public health officials are investigating the reason for the 102-case increase on Sunday to determine if it might have resulted from a delay in reporting, a specific outbreak of illness or reopening of businesses.
Sutter Health, which oversees Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and other Central Valley hospitals, did not comment on the data showing an increase in hospitalizations, but issued a statement saying it has worked closely with the state and healthcare partners to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients.
“Our system’s structure allows us to shift quickly so hardest-hit areas can receive the necessary resources, whether that’s personal protective equipment, ventilators or beds,” Sutter said. “We understand bed capacity is critically important and are prepared to safely manage a surge in” coronavirus.
Modesto has been hammered by the largest case increases, going from a total of 253 to 405 cases in the past 10 days. Ceres’ case total is now 152, up from 98 on June 5, and Riverbank, with 59, has doubled its cases.
Testing has averaged 11 percent positive countywide over the past seven days, above the state’s threshold of 8 percent for counties with approved variances.
To get state approval for moving ahead with the reopening process, the county was required to demonstrate stability in hospitalizations: no more than a 5 percent increase in confirmed COVID-19 patients over a 7-day period or no more than 20 patients per day in the past two weeks.
According to the county’s online dashboard, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has increased 69 percent since June 8. Local hospitals had 41 patients sick with coronavirus Saturday and 44 on Sunday.
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