Sonoma County coronavirus patient count reaches 27; officials reveal first case of recovery
The number of coronavirus cases in Sonoma County grew to 27 Sunday as two more people tested positive for the highly contagious virus amid a push for more screening in the county.
The new cases, coming in the wake of the county’s first coronavirus-related death - an elderly man who recently returned from a cruise - also came with a silver lining: the county reported its first case of a patient recovering from coronavirus.
A second test given to the unidentified patient several weeks after he or she was first diagnosed showed the person was now free of the virus, county officials said.
“I think that’s something we’ve all been waiting for,” Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said Sunday. “It was very hard to receive the news of the county’s first fatality. What we all need to do as a community is remember that people do recover. We’ll get through this and get to the other side.”
By Sunday night, there were nearly seven times as many confirmed cases of coronavirus as there were one week ago in Sonoma County, representing both a surge in cases and an increase in testing capacity, county spokeswoman Jennifer Larocque said.
Cases in Sonoma County, the United States and the world continue to climb. California had reached more than 1,800 cases by Sunday night, triggering a major disaster declaration for the state from President Donald Trump. Nationwide, there were more than 33,000 cases, about 10% of the 336,000 cases around the world.
Last Tuesday, when Sonoma County had just four active cases, interim Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase issued a shelter-in-place order citing proof that the virus was already spreading within the community. The order restricts all but essential business and travel, shuttering dine-in restaurants, bars and more in an effort to cut down on community gathering places that accelerate the spread of coronavirus.
Less than a week later, there are 25 active cases in Sonoma County, excluding the one death and the one recovery from coronavirus, which is known to cause the respiratory disease COVID-19.
Five of the county’s 27 cumulative cases were related to travel, including three who were infected aboard cruise ships bound for Japan and Mexico in January and February, respectively.
Three people were infected due to close contact with people known to have contracted the disease, according to the county, potentially the three confirmed health care workers who have tested positive for the virus.
Six people were exposed to the virus somewhere in the community and 13 cases are still under investigation.
Sonoma County officials still refuse to share other basic information, including demographic information such as age or gender, citing privacy protections. They refuse, also, to disclose how many of those who have tested positive for coronavirus are being treated in area hospitals.
Mase has promised to release demographic information once the case total reaches 50 and she is confident releasing information won’t identify patients or violate federal privacy law.
Officials have long expected the number of cases to grow, pointing not just to the nature of pandemic spread, but also increased testing capacity. When Mase issued her shelter-in-place order Tuesday, just 168 people had been tested for coronavirus. By Sunday night, that number had jumped to 528.
Sonoma County has joined with 11 other counties to hire Imperial College London to turn that testing data into hyperlocal modeling, with officials expecting at least rough results within the next two weeks.
The county’s cost to date is $50,000 for the project, conducted by the same researchers who last week released a model projecting up to 2.2 million people could die in the United States if the disease was allowed to run its course.
The report sent shock waves through Washington, D.C., and influenced the White House’s more aggressive approach to the virus.
Sonoma County officials couldn’t say whether its own aggressive approach could be vindicated with testing data before modeling results become available in several weeks.
“We wouldn’t want to make a conjecture,” Mase said through a county spokeswoman. “It would be like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.”
You can reach Staff Writer Tyler Silvy at 707-526-8667 or at email@example.com. On Twitter ?@tylersilvy.