Sonoma County reports four new COVID-19 deaths, though new cases continue to decline
Sonoma County health officials on Monday reported four new COVID-19 deaths, the first recorded in September, bringing the total number of pandemic deaths to 372.
The county’s official count does not yet include the death of Corrections Lt. Bobby Travelstead, 40, a veteran of the Sheriff’s Office who died at a local hospital on Sept. 1 of COVID-19 complications.
The deaths reported Monday involved a vaccinated woman between 80 and 90, with an underlying health issue, who died Sept. 2 in a residential care facility. Officials said a vaccinated man between 90 and 100, also with an underlying health condition, died Sept. 6 in a local hospital.
An unvaccinated man between 60 and 70 with an underlying health issue died Sept. 2 in a local hospital; and an unvaccinated woman between 40 and 50, also with an underlying health condition, died on Sept. 5 in a local hospital.
Because of the time it takes to confirm COVID-19 deaths with the state, there is often a lag of days or weeks before local county public health staff can officially register or log pandemic-related deaths.
There’s still a chance that deaths from August will continue to be reported. Last month saw the second highest number of pandemic deaths since January, when the peak of a deadly winter surge claimed the lives of 68 people.
New infection rates have been declining for several weeks in Sonoma County, as well as other parts of the state, even as COVID-19 deaths continue to be reported. According to public health experts, pandemic deaths often lag new cases by a month or more.
The current average transmission rate is 15.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people. That’s less than half what it was the first week of August, when it reached as high as 34 daily new cases per 100,000.
In Mendocino County, infection rates are also declining, even as the pandemic fatalities continue to increase. Dr. Andrew Coren, Mendocino County’s health officer, said in a coronavirus update before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning that 70 county residents have died of COVID-19 complications since the beginning of the pandemic, including five in the past week. On Tuesday afternoon, authorities added another death to the toll.
But Coren said transmission rates have continued to decline in recent weeks, from about an average of 55 new daily cases per 100,000 residents in early August to about 39 new cases per 100,000 today. Hospitals continue to be slammed by the summer surge, leading to exhaustion among local medical staff.
“We’re finding many of our own hospital workers just finding it very difficult to work the extra shifts,” he said.
There are currently 26 Mendocino County residents hospitalized, eight of them in ICU. Five are currently receiving ICU treatment in Santa Rosa and San Francisco, and as of Tuesday morning there were no available staffed ICU beds in Mendocino County, Coren said.
Coren told supervisors he had revised a health order requiring businesses to adopt vaccination policies after meeting businesses during a “protest rally” earlier this month. The health order required businesses that serve food and drink to require employees to show proof of vaccination or test frequently, and for patrons to verify their vaccine status if they want to eat indoors.
Coren, who acknowledged the financial hardship small businesses have endured throughout the pandemic, said he has changed the order from a requirement to a “strong recommendation.”
But he said in response to other members of the community, he is requiring that businesses post the pandemic precaution that they are taking so that customers can make an informed decision about where to eat safely.
“I believe this will protect the employees and the patrons without harming the small businesses or the community,” Coren said.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @pressreno.