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More testing key key to reopening more businesses
virus test

The more residents that get tested for COVID-19 the better the chances for San Joaquin County to get off the state’s watch list to allow for more businesses to reopen and for social activities to resume

That was County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park’s message at Tuesday’s San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The State is measuring whether a county has more than 25 COVID-19 positive cases per 100,000 in a 14-day period. San Joaquin County has over 91 people with COVID-19 per 100,000.  Park said she is “urgently requesting” that every resident get tested to help meet the metric and get the county off the State watch list.

Park said she is in regular contact with hospital administrators regarding bed space. She said they are imploring her to put on the brakes so that hospital staff have the capacity and support to properly treat not only COVID-19 patients in the ICU which account for 24 percent of all ICU admissions, but also all other ICU patients who are being treated for a variety of other serious conditions.  While she indicated that she wants to open the County to business and social activities, she has to weigh that with the huge burden and impacts to hospitals and medical staff.

San Joaquin County in the past two weeks has seen COVID-19 cases increase by over 250. As of Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. there were 888 people ill with COVID-19 plus another 1,000 that have recovered. Forty-seven people are currently hospitalized with the virus throughout San Joaquin County. There have been 46 deaths to date,

Park said the increase in cases is tied to reopening businesses. That has resulted in the increase with over 250 positive cases per week in the past two weeks.  She said the overwhelming majority of new cases cannot be traced back to any specific source and are being communally transmitted through skilled nursing homes, travel. She said only 15 percent of the total cases can be traced back to an outbreak source, but the majority of cases are related to community-transmission. 

Park noted the county has been on the State watch list for the past 12 days because of the COVID-19 hospitalization rates and sufficient ICU capacity rates are exceeding the State’s guidance. She said the county has more people in the ICU than ever before and as some individuals are discharged more are being admitted and as a result, the numbers aren’t going down which keeps the county on the watch list. She said the total number of ICU beds available as of Tuesday across the seven county hospitals for any condition is 10.

Park is feeling hopeful that there won’t be too many more patients admitted in the coming days but that she takes that fact that ICUs are getting full very seriously. 

Park discussed how the County reopened more businesses on June 12 to more “low risk” sectors including schools, day camps, pools, casinos, card rooms, racetracks, campgrounds, outdoor recreation and hotels for leisure. Gyms and fitness centers were reopened Wednesday.  She also said she is considering opening other businesses on an individual basis if she sees that the County’s COVID-19 cases and ICU admissions begin stabilizing or decreasing and as the State grants more authority to reopen.

 “We have no arsenal or weapons against the virus except for social distancing, sanitation, and wearing face masks in public,” Park said. “We need to consider the sense of responsibility to the community so that we can continue to reopen all of the businesses.”

Park said the following State-mandated orders still apply to all California residents:

*Mass gatherings of any number of people are prohibited.

* Residents can leave their homes to engage with businesses and activities allowed by the State.

* Businesses and sectors of the economy that open are required to follow State guidance.

To prevent further spread of COVID-19:

*Everyone must continue to observe social distancing protocols, minimize their time outside their homes, and wash their hands frequently. 

*All Californians should not travel significant distances and should stay close to their homes.

 “It concerns me that when I am out in the community I see fewer people are wearing masks and gloves, it makes me nervous,” said Kathy Miller, Chair of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. “I care about the people who live here and we need to encourage everyone to protect themselves, to social distance and in doing so, keep our businesses and communities safe and open.”