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Schools close and new measures instituted to slow COVID-19
Third case confirmed in Stanislaus County

Schools across Stanislaus and Merced counties will be closing in the coming days; bars have been directed to shut their doors and restaurants to cut occupancy by half; and people over 65 have been advised to stay home as the country reacts to COVID-19.

Stanislaus County Health Services Agency reports the county now has four positive cases of COVID-19. Another 11 people are awaiting test results, while 20 people in the county have gotten negative test results. Twenty-four people in Stanislaus County are being monitored.

the third positive case of COVID-19 was announced Monday afternoon. The adult male was infected with the virus from a confirmed case in another county, according to the SCHSA.

The Stanislaus County of Education announced on Sunday that the 25 school districts in the county will close as of Thursday.

“We did not make this decision lightly and recognize that this may cause a hardship for some families. The decision was made based on declining student attendance, increased health concerns, and community feedback,” said Scott Kuykendall, Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools.  “Each school district and charter school will continue to communicate directly with families and staff with updates about re-opening, learning alternatives, and the availability of school meals."

Other school districts, like Turlock Christian, Sacred Heart School and Merced have announced closures.

As of Saturday, the California Department of Public Health has recorded 335 positive cases and six deaths. The state has conducted more than 8,000 tests.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom previously declared a state of emergency and ordered a statewide cancellation of events and gatherings of 250 or more people. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all events of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks.

Gov. Newsom issued new directives on Sunday in an effort to protect the most vulnerable and increase social distancing.

“We are calling for the home isolation of all of those 65 years and older and those with chronic conditions,” Newsom said. “We are doing so with our eyes wide open at the magnitude of what that means and the need to provide wraparound services to support our seniors in need of medical supplies and need of meals and the like.”

Additionally, the governor directed all bars, nightclubs, wineries, brewpubs, and the like to be closed. Restaurants were told to cut the occupancy in half.

“We believe that this is a non-essential function in our state and we believe that it’s appropriate under the circumstances to move in that direction,” Newsom said.

The wave of cancellations and postponements are all part of an effort to slow the rate of infection. Health officials call it flattening the curve and hopefully will prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with a surge of patients.

Emanuel Medical Center said the hospital has constructed designated screening areas and is taking additional measures to protect staff and patients.

“Before patients and visitors enter Emanuel Medical Center in areas such as emergency department or registration, hospital staff are questioning all of their recent travel and detailing symptoms,” the hospital wrote on Facebook. “This helps us minimize any potential exposure. In addition, we are allowing one visitor per patient at this time.

“Emanuel Medical Center is supported by a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, infection prevention experts and clinicians. Our team prepares and trains for these types of situations throughout the year and is ready to respond as this situation unfolds. We have strong infection control policies, procedures and systems in place to screen and treat patients. We are committed to keeping our patients, our staff and our community safe.”

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.

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 health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.