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Covid-19 cases back on the rise in SB County

Public health officer recommends avoiding large gatherings

The San Benito County Department of Public Health is reporting that the numbers for new cases of Covid-19 have been skyrocketing the past few weeks, leaving question marks for the upcoming holiday season.  

The Public Health Services’ latest community newsletter announced on Nov. 23 that there was an increase of 113 new cases reported during Nov. 15-21.

“Unfortunately, the entire country is experiencing the worst spread of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, with a death in the US occurring every minute,” County interim Public Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said. 

Ghilarducci mentioned that California and San Benito County have been doing relatively well, but it appears the large numbers of cases are starting to hit within the county. 

“With travel and gatherings associated with the holidays there is every indication that this situation will become far worse by Christmas,” he said.

As of Nov. 23, there have been 1,746 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the county. The local death count remains at 15, according to county officials. 

Confirmed cases include patients who have since recovered and those who are deceased. 

The county’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that there are currently 121 active cases with five new cases as of Nov. 23. There have been 19,005 patients tested for the novel coronavirus locally. Of these, 17,233 have tested negative and 1,610 patients have recovered.

The data from the Public Health Services’ latest community newsletter shows that of the 1,746 positive cases of Covid-19, 59 patients are in the 0-4 age group; 440 are in the 5-24 age group; 771 are in the 25-49; 332 patients are in the 50-64 age group; and 143 are age 64 or older.

The San Benito County Department of Public Health tracks Covid-19 transmission types through contact tracing. There’s still a large number of cases under investigation and a source of transmission has not been verified, according to county officials.

On Nov. 23, the public health department released a breakdown regarding the surge in cases that have been traced. It showed that 6 percent of the cases are through community transmission, which means the source of the infection is unknown. That means the risk of community transmission can happen at a grocery store, banks, laundromats or dining in public areas.

County officials are reporting that 2 percent of cases are travel-related such as those traveling outside of the local region to an area with widespread community transmission. There’s a rate of 19 percent for those who are exposed to an infected person at their workplace. 

However, the biggest surge in cases is due to contact transmission at a whopping 27 percent. Of those, county officials are claiming that 42 percent are household contacts and 39 percent occur by making contact outside of the household. 

Some positive cases have been traced to baby showers, weddings, football parties, birthday parties and meals with family or friends outside the household, according to county health officials. They recommend avoiding gatherings or spending time with people who don’t live in the same household in order to prevent risk of exposure. 

The Public Health Services’ community newsletter also shows that San Benito County continues to be in the most restricted purple tier, or “substantial” risk level.

The county, according to state data, had a case rate of 15.8 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 6.3 percent for the week ending Nov. 10. The “widespread” risk level factors is more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, and a positivity rate of more than 8 percent. 

The statewide data shows 16.5 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 5.2 percent for the week ending Nov. 10.

At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving forward from the purple “widespread” tier back to to the red “substantial” tier after meeting the criteria of the less restrictive level for 14 consecutive days. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays.