Sonoma County hits 58 coronavirus cases, 13 recoveries
Three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Sonoma County on Sunday, increasing the number of local cases to 58 as the virus continues to spread in the United States.
Thirteen residents are being treated at area hospitals and 13 have recovered from the virus, the county reported Sunday.
Demographic information about the patients, withheld by public health officials until Friday when the county recorded its 50th case, show a disease that does not discriminate based on age, gender or location.
Twenty-eight of those diagnosed with coronavirus are in the 18-49 age group, 20 are 50-64 and 10 are 65 or older. Cases have come from throughout the county, according to county data.
Sonoma County Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said the demographic data is about what she expected to see, with one possible exception: She is pleased to see so few cases among people 65 and older.
The county took early action targeting the senior community. On March 13, Mase limited gatherings of high-risk groups to 10 people or fewer, then restricted visits at residential care facilities one day later.
Mase credits that early guidance as potentially limiting the number of seniors exposed to the virus, which is known to cause the respiratory disease COVID-19.
“We’re protecting them, and that’s good,” she said.
Sonoma County, like the rest of the United States, continues to see case numbers rise, a trend expected to continue in California over the next four weeks, according to projections by researchers at the University of Washington.
The model published by the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that the outbreak will peak in California on April 24, some 10 days after the peak of the pandemic nationwide. It projects 6,109 people in the state will die, accounting for nearly 8% of the 81,114 deaths across the country.
Researchers did not provide data on individual counties, but Sonoma County would experience 77 deaths if the county’s death rate matches statewide projections.
So far, one person in Sonoma County has died due to complications from the virus.
In Mendocino County, public health officials announced a fourth person has tested positive for coronavirus Sunday. All appear to have been infected during travel, said county Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan, who has found no signs of community spread.
By comparison, nearly 20% of Sonoma County’s cases came via community spread, with slightly more coming via travel.
Sonoma County, along with other Bay Area counties, is working to secure more specific modeling. On Friday, county officials signed a contract with Imperial College London, which early in the pandemic provided harrowing worldwide modeling showing as many as 2.2 million American deaths. Sonoma County will pay those researchers up to $50,000 for local modeling and expects the first batch of rough results to be ready Friday, according to the contract obtained through a request under the California Public Records Act.
Those first estimates will also come with summaries of the impact of the county’s shelter-in-place order, as well as predictions about the level of public compliance necessary to make that order effective, Mase said.
A second phase of modeling, which would explore the effect of shelter-in-place directives and other measures meant to slow the spread of the disease, won’t be ready until the end of May.
Researchers are actively gathering more information about the county to plug into that modeling work. They’ve asked for five years’ worth of data on the spread of influenza in the county, and data from the same time period related to patients with lung injuries.
Mase said the key for effective modeling will be more testing data, adding that she’s pleased with efforts from local health care providers to boost the number of people tested after a slow start by some.
To date, there have been 1,397 tests conducted in Sonoma County. Nearly 96% of local tests, or 1,339, have come back negative.
“These are rough estimates,” Mase said. “The modeling is based on the number of cases we have. The more data we have, the easier it will be for our modeler to do the work.”
You can reach Staff Writer Tyler Silvy at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tylersilvy.