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Sonoma County residents advised to cover nose and mouth when out

Sonoma County residents should cover their mouths and noses with scarves, bandannas or other makeshift masks when leaving the home for essential errands and duties, public health officer Sundari Mase said Saturday, affirming recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Face coverings are a precautionary measure to help lessen transmission of the highly infectious disease during day-to-day contact and can help keep people from touching their faces when out in public, Mase said.

Mase urged people to use items from home and not medical or surgical masks, which should be reserved for health care workers and first responders providing direct care for people who may carry the coronavirus.

“It could be anything that covers your nose and mouth - a cloth-based covering,” Mase said.

Washing hands and other hygiene practices remain the best way for people to protect themselves from catching the virus, she said.

The number of Sonoma County people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, rose by two overnight to 107, according to county data. That includes 83 active cases and 23 people who have recovered.

No more deaths have been reported for local residents since a man in his 60s died in March. He had underlying health conditions, and died from complications from the coronavirus at Sutter Santa Rosa. It’s suspected he contracted the virus while traveling on a cruise ship.

Mase said public health epidemiologists are analyzing data about those who have tested positive and will share additional information about local cases, such as demographics and ?other details including travel history and symptoms.

A cough, fever, chills and muscle aches were the most common early symptoms those with COVID-19 have felt with the onset of the illness, according to an analysis of known cases Mase said.

She has also said a notable proportion of people had traveled to New York City.

Statewide, the number of coronavirus detections had risen to 13,881 Saturday with 2,300 people hospitalized, including 1,008 patients under care in intensive care units, according to state data. Another 3,267 patients in hospitals across the state are believed to have COVID-19 and are awaiting test results, according to the state.

So far, 318 people in California are reported to have died from the disease.

Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday said he was determined to increase the amount of testing for COVID-19 in California, and announced a new task force with that mission.

The county’s public health lab recently cleared the use of an alternative type of swab than the one typically used, and Mase said she’s procured 400 of those new swabs to be used for testing.

Newsom also announced a central website aimed at corralling donated medical supplies from individuals and companies to health care and testing facilities: covid19supplies.ca.gov.

Mase said local companies could also donate medical supplies to the public health department to be distributed to public health workers and local medical facilities.

“We want those supplies,” Mase said.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com.

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