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COVID-19 concerns spread into new year
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Stanislaus County has ended the year with a coronavirus situation similar to how it started in March — rising cases and a stay-at-home-order.

The first cases of COVID-19 in Stanislaus County began appearing in March and within a short time the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency started reporting the first deaths. As cases spread rapidly all over the state, the California Department of Public Health issued a stay-at-home order that shuttered schools, businesses and churches across the state.

Now, as 2020 passed into 2021, Stanislaus County has surpassed more than 600 deaths from COVID-19 and the San Joaquin Valley is once again under a stay-at-home-order because ICU capacity is hovering around 0%.

The region has seen both highs and lows in the fight against COVID-19 over 2020. The particular vulnerability of senior citizens to the virus was shown locally when an outbreak at the Turlock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center sickened hundreds. As of Tuesday, the facility had reported a total of 167 residents and 85 staff members that have tested positive for COVID-19.

By late spring and early summer, the area was showing progress in flattening the coronavirus curve and businesses and churches were able to loosen restrictions. But by July the rates were spiking again both hospitalizations and deaths started to grow.

The rise in cases and deaths continued as people gathered for Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Typically, people experience the severest symptoms of the virus and are hospitalized about 10 days after exposure, on average. So, health officials won’t know the local impact from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays until a few weeks into January.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, many residents and businesses did well by following the guidance,” said SCHSA spokesperson Kamlesh Kaye. “We did well in following the guidance and that allowed us to open up in May and in September. However, our recent cases have been related to gatherings, both small and large. We can only get out of the predicament we are in if everyone follows the public health guidance which hasn’t changed: wear a face covering, stay 6 feet apart from others, wash hands after touching common areas or participating in activities, and stay home (especially when one is sick). Following the isolation and quarantine instructions can help in stopping the spread of the disease.”