Public health officials report two more virus deaths

Confirmed cases now at 3,431 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. 28, the county reported its 27th and 28th deaths from the novel coronavirus. They are the first deaths reported since Dec. 23 and the 12th fatality reported this month.

The county’s Covid-19 dashboard shows that there are 3,431 confirmed cases and currently 509 active cases, including 37 new cases recorded as of Dec. 28. It also shows that 10 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 24,682 tested for the novel coronavirus locally. Of these, 21,217 have tested negative and 2,894 patients have recovered.

The data from the Public Health Services’ latest community newsletter shows that of the 3,431 positive cases of Covid-19, 105 patients are in the 0-4 age group; 858 are in the 5-24 age group; 1,525 are in the 25-49; 665 patients are in the 50-64 age group; and 275 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. 28. 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.

County Public Information Officer David Westrick issued a press release on Dec. 23 noting that the Public Health Department emphasized 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.”

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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