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A third case of COVID-19 confirmed in Mendocino County, 55th in Sonoma County

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Mendocino County health officials on Saturday confirmed a third case of the new coronavirus in that county, and like the first two cases, the most recent is thought to be linked to travel.

Meanwhile, only one more confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, was reported in Sonoma County, according to health officials. That brings the total number of Sonoma County cases to 55 as of Saturday night.

“As we expected, cases are occurring in all age groups, except for those under 18,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer.

On a day when Gov. Gavin Newsom said the number of coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care units had more than doubled in one day statewide, admissions in Sonoma County had not increased dramatically, public health officials said.

The new COVID-19 patient in Mendocino County, an individual from inland Mendocino County, is in stable condition and in isolation at home, officials said. Public health workers are actively monitoring their health.

Officials said there was no need to hospitalize the individual and that the patient poses no risk to the public at this time.

Public health officials said Mendocino County’s first confirmed patient with coronavirus has recovered. The individual is from the south coast.

The basic details of the three cases provided by Mendocino County public health officials stands in contrast with the dearth of information Sonoma County officials released about their COVID-19 cases before the county crossed a threshold of 50  confirmed cases on Friday.

Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, pointed out that the largest age group testing positive for the new virus was between 18 and 64. Those 65 and older only made up at least 10 of the 55 confirmed cases. County public health officials released no demographic information about the newest case reported Saturday.

Still, Mase said the low number of seniors testing positive is a good sign. The elderly are among the most vulnerable to the disease, which has thus far killed one person in Sonoma County.

“In looking in this data, perhaps the previous recommendations for those over 65 to stay at home and eliminating entry to residential care facilities could be a reason for this,” Mase said, referring to the lower number of elderly testing positive.

“Cases are occurring in all areas of the county and this underscores the current shelter-in-place order from the county and state, she said.

Mase said the county’s share of COVID-19 patients who are being hospitalized is similar to that of the state, 24%.

“It is split pretty evenly between sexes, and cases are occurring in all instances — travel, community, close contact and unknown sources,” she said.

Mase said nothing in the recent demographic data changes the need for the current public health directives. She said it “stresses the need for shelter in place or staying at home in all areas of the county.”

Mendocino County’s newest confirmed COVID-19 patient is at home in isolation, Dr. Noemi Doohan, that county’s health officer, said in a statement.

Doohan said the individual is being monitored by public health workers and their primary health care provider. She pointed out that the COVID-19 test for the most recent case was conducted through the public health lab system and that testing is “highly problematic due to shortages of the test sampling materials and limited testing capacity.”

Doohan said the testing done through commercial laboratory Quest Diagnostics takes too long. “As of today, the average turnaround time for the one commercial lab available to our county, Quest, is two weeks,” she said.

Quest Diagnostics could not be reached for comment Saturday.

As a result, Mendocino County health officials are processing tests through the county public health lab in Santa Rosa.

Test results through the Santa Rosa lab can be obtained within 72 hours, which includes the time needed for pickup of the sampling kit and delivery of the sample by courier to the lab in Santa Rosa.

Mendocino health officials said because of the problems with testing supplies and resources, priority is being given to symptomatic patients from specific categories. This includes health care workers, public safety personnel, people of high public health risk such as nursing home residents, people in jail and homeless individuals.

It also includes those who are at high risk of exposure as a result of travel or contact and emergency room and hospitalized patients, where the test result will affect patient care.

As of Saturday afternoon, Mendocino public health officials reported a total of 187 lab tests, of which 143 have resulted negative and 3 have come back positive. There were 41 pending.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

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