State adds county to watch list

Businesses could shutdown if cases continue to rise

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California Department of Public Health Officials are keeping a close eye on San Benito County as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in the area.

County Interim Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci issued a press release July 7 saying that the county was placed on the Covid-19 County Data Monitoring Project watch list. 

Ghilarducci said being on the watch list was in response to elevated disease transmission as indicated by the county, which exceeded the state’s 14-day case rate threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 residents. 

The 14-day case rate equals the total number of cases diagnosed and reported over a 14-day period divided by the number of people living in the county. This number is then multiplied by 100,000. 

According to Ghilarducci, San Benito County is permitted up to 64 cases using the metric. But as of July 6 they have recorded 67 cases and are now on day two of the monitoring list. 

Ghilarducci said if the county remains on the watch list for three or more consecutive days the state will require them to close all brewpubs, breweries, bars and pubs for at least three weeks.

“San Benito County continues to work with local businesses, hospitals, clinics and congregate living facilities to quickly identify and isolate individuals diagnosed with Covid-19,” he said. 

Ghilarducci also mentioned that dine-in restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, cardrooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums will also be closed if the number of cases continue to rise. Outdoor operations may continue with appropriate modifications.

As of July 7, there have been 292 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in San Benito County since the pandemic started. The local death count remains at two, according to county officials.

The data from San Benito County Public Health Services’ latest community newsletter shows that 5,839 patients have been tested for the novel coronavirus locally. Of these, 5,520 have tested negative.

Of the 292 positive cases of Covid-19, 26 patients are in the 0-17 age group; 167 are in the 18-49 age group; 71 are in the 50-64; and 28 are age 65 or older.

In California, there have been 277,774 total cases reported, and 6,448 deaths from Covid-19.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velázquez said shutting down businesses and forms of entertainment is a trend that’s spreading across the state and the country.   

“We did such a great job originally and then people got complacent,” he said. 

Velázquez said he heard of people in Hollister getting harassed for wearing face covers and others who expressed that they shouldn’t be forced to wear them. He said he’s frustrated at those who spent the time and energy attacking people that were following the face covering order.

“It just makes no sense to me,” he said. 

Velázquez said he believes the rising number of Covid-19 cases is the result of not following the guidelines.

“We’re seeing what happens when you let your guard down and you start believing this thing’s not real,” he said.

Velázquez said he believes they can beat another surge in cases and keep businesses open if they stick with the state’s guidelines. But he also mentioned that they could go back to the shelter-in-place mandate if things continue to go south.

Ghilarducci said it’s crucial to wear a face covering when out in public, staying physically distanced from people outside of a household, washing hands frequently and staying home when sick will assist in stabilizing the case rate, while also protecting the most vulnerable populations. 

The metrics the state is using to monitor the spread of the virus and county responses to the CDPH Covid-19 Data Monitoring Project team are available on the California Department of Public Health’s website at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyDataTable.aspx

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