Two new coronavirus cases reported Saturday in Sonoma County
Public health officials on Saturday reported two new cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in Sonoma County, bringing total cases here to 24 people including a patient who died Friday.
County health officials would not release any demographic information about the new cases or the single death. They say they are still investigating where and how the two latest patients became infected with the virus that’s spread into a global pandemic.
It marked the end of a harrowing week in which local cases soared nearly fivefold, the county took sweeping action to try to curtail further spread of COVID-19 and to secure additional hospital space in case the number of people stricken explodes in the coming weeks. Before last Saturday when county officials confirmed the first case here in which a person contracted the virus from unknown local transmission, the three people hospitalized were infected during a pair of cruises to Japan and Mexico in January and February, respectively.
Dr. Sundari Mase, the county’s interim health officer, said in an interview Saturday the rising number of people confirmed to have the virus was not surprising given the potential for it to spread in the community. But public health emergency measures, such as her unprecedented three-week order effective last Wednesday for people countywide to largely stay at home will help keep the infection rate from increasing exponentially, she said.
Practically, her directive mostly shut down county commerce other than businesses deemed essential and allows people to run errands like food shopping and to go outside for fresh air and to walk the dog. She urged people to stay close to home and keep a safe social distance of at least 6 feet from others.
“Everyone in Sonoma County is feeling the somber reality of losing one of our own with coronavirus, and we’re starting to see how quickly this could spread locally if we let it go unchecked,” Mase said. “We’re in a good place. We started to limit the spread by only leaving our homes for essential activities right after seeing that the virus was in our community.”
On Thursday, she suggested that 20% to 40% of residents in the county, which has a population of more than 500,000 could ultimately contract the virus.
New details emerged Saturday about the first local resident who died Friday afternoon at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital from coronavirus-related conditions. The deceased is an elderly man with underlying health problems who recently went on a cruise, said a Sutter hospital source who requested anonymity.
Mase said she would begin releasing demographic information about local cases when the number of positive COVID-19 patients in the county reaches roughly 50, a number making it harder to identify patients.
The two new cases emerged as local testing ramped up and test results rose sharply. However, there are many reports of county residents claiming they’ve been unable to get tested for their flu-like symptoms. Local health officials have repeatedly urged sick people to call their doctors to report symptoms so it can be determined who should get priority for testing.
As of late Saturday, the county public health laboratory had conducted 464 coronavirus tests. Of these, 415 have come back negative and the results of 25 tests are still pending.