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COVID-19 cases grow in Stanislaus County
Health officials see evidence of community spread

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams issued a stark statement Monday morning that “it’s going to get bad” as the rate of COVID-19 continues to grow across the country.

“I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams said in an interview on the “Today” show on NBC.

The statement was made as the number of COVID-19 cases grew to more than 50,000 and 646 deaths in the United States. Globally, the pandemic has reached more than 409,000 cases and 18,200 deaths, as of Tuesday afternoon, according to John Hopkins University.

In Stanislaus County the number of cases grew to 11 confirmed cases of the virus over the last couple of days, according to the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency. There have been no deaths reported in the county from COVID-19. Three people were confirmed with the virus over the weekend, two on Monday and one early Tuesday. Stanislaus County Public Health Director Dr. Julie Vaishampayan said on Monday night that two of the cases were travel related, two were from close contact and six were from community spread. The case confirmed early Tuesday was not classified as to contraction.

"Those classified with community spread may not have been exposed in Stanislaus County and may have traveled within the United States to an area with community transmission," Dr. Vaishampayan said. "So, it's a bit hard to interpret. Our syndromic surveillance, the system we have in place to monitor illness in people presenting to hospital emergency departments in our county, started showing an increase in people coming in with respiratory complaints, such as cough or shortness of breath, over the past few days. These are the indicators we have been looking for here in Stanislaus County to let us know that COVID-19 is now starting to spread in our community.

“Now that we are seeing spread in our county, it is crucial for people to stay home and keep a six-foot distance from others," she continued. "This is how we are able to stop spread. The more people who stay at home, the faster the spread is stopped and the shorter the time we will all be asked to stay at home. The more people go out and mix with others, the longer it will take to stop the spread and the longer the shelter at home order will be in place."

Merced County has reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus, while in San Joaquin County the number of cases rose to 60 with two deaths.

In California, the number of cases grew to 1,733 cases with 27 deaths as of Sunday, according to the California Department of Public Health. The breakdown by age of those cases show the largest age group to have the virus in the state are people considered to have a lower risk of developing the most serious cases. The CDPH said children up to the age of 17 years make up 25 of the state's cases. People between the ages of 18 years to 49 years accounted for 837 cases. The group of people between 50 years to 64 years were at 442 cases and people over 65 years of age made up 415 cases. There were 14 cases were the age was unknown.

The World Health Organization said the pandemic is accelerating quicker than expected and that the United States is at risk of becoming the next epicenter of the virus.

Dr. Adams said in the interview he expects the number of cases to grow, especially because younger adults are not staying inside like they should be and practicing social distancing.

“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said. “Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.

“The other important point is that we're not going to ventilator our way out of this problem. We're not going to treat our way out of this problem,” he said. “The way you stop the spread of an infectious disease like this is with mitigation measures and preventing people from getting it in the first place.”

In Turlock more people appear to be taking the stay at home order seriously than not. The Turlock Police Department noted the call log had fewer calls for service, though part of that is because more reporting is being directed online.

“We really didn’t have any issues in regards to large gatherings like has been reported with those places with beaches and so forth,” Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar said. “I have been asked if we are stopping vehicles simply for being out and about and we are not. We will continue to enforce traffic laws and frankly if it does come down to us having to speak to a group regarding gathering that’s exactly what we’ll do. As with anything new it’s important that you educate and I feel strongly that our department will attempt to make sure people understand what’s expected before we actually have to cite people. Remember people can still go outside, walk around, take the dogs for a walk etc. They just should not be in gatherings i.e. big birthday parties etc.”

Concerns are being raised locally and across the world that there are not enough medical supplies, like ventilators and personal protective equipment to face the coming wave of hospitalizations.

"Healthcare workers are the tip of the spear in a crisis like this and one of our main concerns as this progresses is diminishing PPE, or personal protective equipment," said Memorial Medical Center CEO Gino Patrizio. "This is not just a local issue... this is a worldwide crisis. So, our resources, particularly when it comes to things like personal protective equipment, are being stressed like never before. Now, I will tell you we will be able to keep our dedicated healthcare professionals safe, but it's going to take all of us to do it."

Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center announced on Monday that they are accepting donations of specific new items in the original packaging. The items include:

• N95, procedure and surgical masks,

• face shields, isolation gowns,

• PAPR-hoods,

• Maxair CAPR shields and protective goggles.

• Paper protective gowns

• Paper masks (with ties or elastic)

• Industrial face shields (e.g. paint shields)

• Painters smocks (impermeable)

To make a donation, call 530-3525 or email

There are also significant issues arising on the availability of tests and the ability to get the results as quickly as possible. The CDPH reported that as of Sunday the state had conducted 26,400 tests and of those, 12,100 results were still pending. Dr. Vaishampayan stressed that because the tests are limited, it is not recommended everyone be tested. She said locally the priority is for individuals in the hospital and living in larger groups, like assisted living facilities.

"These are the people where the test makes a difference in their care," Dr. Vaishampayan said. "It makes a difference in our work to stop the spread to other people they are in contact with.

"The testing we now have available is sufficient to know how much COVID-19 is in the community, so we can recommend the best appropriate response to keep our community healthy."

There is drive through testing in Stanislaus County, but it is only for people referred by their doctor and is by appointment only.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, a dry cough, and body aches. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). This occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Health officials recommend people:

·         Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

·         Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

·         Cover a cough or sneeze with your sleeve, or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward.

·         Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

·         Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.