Public health officials report two more virus deaths

Confirmed cases now at 3,171 in San Benito County

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San Benito County Public Health officials are reporting the number of new Covid-19 cases are still on the rise in the county, including two more deaths in their latest newsletter.

As of Dec. 23, the county reported its 25th and 26th death of the novel coronavirus in San Benito County. It’s the first death reported since Dec. 22 and the 10th fatality reported this month.

The county’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that there are 3,171 confirmed cases and currently 616 active cases, including 97 new cases recorded as of Wednesday, Dec. 23. It also shows that 11 people are hospitalized within the county, with three of those in the intensive care unit.  

Confirmed cases include patients who have since recovered and those who are deceased. There’s been 23,824 tested for the novel coronavirus locally. Of these, 20,638 have tested negative and 2,529 patients have recovered.

County Public Information Officer David Westrick said in a press release issued on Dec. 23 that the Public Health Department wants to emphasize the importance of both worker protections and reporting virus outbreaks at the workplace. 

“San Benito County is currently experiencing sharp increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” he said.

According to Westrick, an outbreak is defined as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 among employees who live in different households within a two week period.

Westrick said that most of the cases reported are a result of people participating in household mixers, gatherings and holiday-related activities, which led to an increase in workplace coronavirus infections and outbreaks.  

“People can spread the Covid-19 virus two days before having symptoms, if they have symptoms at all,” he said. “Persons infected with Covid-19 can unknowingly expose coworkers during this two-day period. Therefore, it is critical for businesses to follow strict infection control protocols to decrease the risk of transmission in their workplaces.”

The data from the Public Health Services’ latest community newsletter shows that of the 3,171 positive cases of Covid-19, 100 patients are in the 0-4 age group; 802 are in the 5-24 age group; 1,409 are in the 25-49; 604 patients are in the 50-64 age group; and 255 are age 64 or older.

The newsletter also shows that San Benito County remains in the most restricted purple “widespread” risk level as of Dec. 22. The county, according to state data, had a case rate of 68.3 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 16.2 percent for the week of Dec. 6-12. 

These numbers are beyond the “widespread” risk level factors for each county, which is more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, and a positivity rate of more than 8 percent. 

The statewide data shows 80.7 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 13.3 percent for the week of Dec. 6-12.

At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving forward from the purple “widespread” tier to the red “substantial” tier after meeting the criteria of the less restrictive level for 14 consecutive days. 

The limits for the “substantial” tier are no more than 4 to 7 daily new cases per 100,000 residents, and a positivity rate between 5-8 percent.

Workplace outbreaks can be reported to the Covid-19 Hotline at 831-636-4113 or by email at [email protected]. Workers and employers can also anonymously report virus worksite outbreaks, state and health officers order violations and protocols to the hotline.

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