The number of COVID-19 cases will likely see a significant increase this week in Stanislaus County as the public health agency undertakes more testing of residents. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency also released new modeling on Tuesday, with some predicting a peak in the summer and another showing April as the peak month.
The SCHSA has partnered with Verily's Baseline COVID-19 Program to offer drive-through testing to residents. The program started Monday and expects to be testing up to 500 residents per week.
The testing is not just open to anyone arriving at the site. Residents can screen their symptoms and, if eligible, can make an appointment for testing at the Salida Library online by using the Baseline COVID-19 Program online screener and appointment scheduling system found at www.projectbaseline.com/COVID19.
This program is first focusing on high-risk populations as advised by national guidelines.
“We have wanted to offer more COVID-19 testing opportunities to people at risk for severe disease within Stanislaus County, but limited testing supplies made this a challenge,” said Stanislaus County Public Health Director Dr. Julie Vaishampayan. “Our partnership with Verily will help bring the resources and tools to Stanislaus County to offer COVID-19 testing without over loading the healthcare system.”
Verily developed The Baseline COVID-19 Program working closely with state and local government health authorities and other private health organizations to expand access to COVID-19 screening and testing in areas with a high volume of known cases.
Eligible persons must be 18 years or older, live in Stanislaus County and willing to electronically sign the COVID-19 Public Health Authorization Form and Lab Consent. Based on the COVID-19 screener and testing appointment availability, individuals will learn whether they are eligible for testing through this program and will be provided a testing location appointment.
Currently, Stanislaus County has 236 positive COVID-19 cases and four deaths. Of those positive cases 52 are hospitalized and 184 are at home, according to the SCHSA.
There are 12 cases in children up to 17 years old; 18 to 49-year olds represent 127 cases; there are 60 cases among 50 to 64-year olds; and there are 37 cases in people 65 and older.
Person to person transmission accounted for the most cases, at 144. It was followed by community transmission at 78 cases and travel at 14 cases.
Modesto has the largest number of cases in Stanislaus County at 91, followed by the unincorporated area of the county with 40. Ceres has 31 cases, Patterson 22, Turlock 18, Riverbank 10, Newman 8, Waterford 7 and Oakdale 5.
SCHSA released four new modeling predictions on Tuesday. The models look at the transmission rate, when the COVID-19 epidemic started, the amount of social distancing that has been practiced and the number of patients with COVID-19 who are hospitalized. The models focusing on the region of Stanislaus County use the same parameters of some variables, but some of them are different from the others. For example, the models include 25 to 40 percent participation of social distancing. As a result, they predict different timing and growth of hospital beds needed for COVID-19 patients.
Models from UC Davis and Bayesiant both predict Stanislaus County will hit a peak in mid-June and will surpass hospital bed capacity. The University of Pennsylvania model predicts the area will hit a peak in August, but will not surpass hospital bed capacity. The model from Stanford shows the peak is currently happening.
"The new surge figures are driven by many unknowns and are based on our behavior — how well we continue to abide by the public health orders and social distancing expectations," said Stanislaus County spokeswoman Amy Vickery.
In anticipation of a need for additional hospital resources for COVID-19 patients, Stanislaus County is tracking what is currently in use and available for new patients. As of April 16, out of 1,209 hospital beds, 40 percent are currently in use and 60 percent are available. Out of 121 ICU beds, 60 percent are currently in use and 40 percent are available. Out of 208 ventilators, 23 percent are in use and 77 percent are available. Stanislaus County is coordinating with local hospitals to monitor the availability of these resources daily.
As Stanislaus County Public Health continues to work with the Emergency Operation Center in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic locally, it is critical that individuals and organizations take critical steps in slowing the spread of the virus by following all applicable guidance and recommendations, including:
· Practice social distancing which means stay at least 6 feet away from others;
· Avoid ALL non-essential activities that involve close contact with the general public;
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds;
· Limit close contact with people who are sick. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick;
· Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and
· Do not share objects such as utensils, cups, food and drink.
People can receive updates about COVID-19 in Stanislaus County by texting STANCOVID19 (all caps) to 888777 to receive updates from the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services.