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County reports three more Covid-19 deaths

Masks distributed to help prevent spread of virus

Chabad South County Jewish Center hosted a drive-by mask distribution event at Hollister City Hall on Sept. 3. (Juan Reyes)

The number of new Covid-19 cases continues to fluctuate in San Benito County and public health officials have reported another jump in the local death count.

As of Sept. 8, county officials reported a 10th death and 1,207 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the county, which is 600 more reported since the end of July. 

The first of three recent deaths was reported Aug. 28, while two more were accounted for after the Labor Day weekend. 

Confirmed cases include patients who have since recovered and those who are deceased. The three new deaths were the first in the area since Aug. 20.

The county’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that there are currently 87 active cases with 10 new cases as of Aug. 7.

The data from the Public Health Services’ latest community newsletter shows that 13,120 patients have been tested for the novel coronavirus locally. Of these, 11,886 have tested negative and 1,110 patients have recovered.

Of the 1,207 positive cases of Covid-19, 184 patients are in the 0-17 age group; 689 are in the 18-49 age group; 234 are in the 50-64; and 99 are age 65 or older.

In California, there have been 737,911 total cases reported, and 13,758 deaths from Covid-19.

The Chabad South County Jewish Center on Sept. 3 set up a drive-thru distribution in front of City Hall and volunteers gave away 10,000 masks as part of their Covid-19 crisis assistance program. 

Rabbi Mendel Liberow, director of the center, said that businesses have to survive, and putting on a mask is a simple enough task that will help speed up the reopening process. The reusable masks they gave away are approved and recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

“Masks are there to prevent Covid, which is very contagious, but love and concern for each other is just as contagious,” he said. “Instead of just focusing on the negative aspect that we can spread a disease to each other, how about we try to spread a smile.”

This week, the state revealed a new, more “stringent” four-tiered reopening system that will allow counties to begin opening their economies depending on their Covid-19 case and test positivity rates.

San Benito continues to be at the purple “widespread” risk level as of Sept. 9. The limits for the “widespread” tier are no more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, and a positivity rate less than 8 percent. 

The county, according to state data, had a case rate of 24.1 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 13.4 percent for the week ending Aug. 29.

Neighboring counties such as Santa Cruz and Santa Clara, moved from the purple “Widespread” tier to the red “Substantial” tier after meeting the criteria of the less restrictive level for 14 consecutive days. 

Santa Cruz County, according to state data, had a case rate of 5.3 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 3.8 percent during the week of Aug. 28. 

At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving forward. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velázquez, who was part of the crew handing out packs of masks on Sept. 3, said the solution is simple. 

“The face covers is the answer,” he said. “If we all do the face covers we can beat this virus, we can control this virus, we can get back to at least a semi normal life and get everybody back working.”