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Cases Jump to 54, Community Transmission Probable; Those that Mask Expose Fewer People; Large Gatherings Pose Risk; Demographics Coming Monday; Personal Choices Slow the Spread

Lake County, CA (June 28, 2020) — Since I issued my last update late Thursday afternoon, active COVID-19 cases have jumped by 12 in Lake County.  We now sit at 54 total cases, 16 active, and 3 of those are currently hospitalized; 1 was transferred to a higher level of care in another County, but remains our case.  Community transmission has probably occurred; the new Lake County cases stem from a variety of sources.

Similar increases are occurring throughout our region, including surrounding counties.  California-wide, we have set a daily record for new infections each of the last 5 days.  With more social interaction taking place due to loosening of restrictions, an increase in cases was expected.  However, it also reinforces our great need to take appropriate precautions.

Face Coverings Limit the Spread of COVID-19
Clusters where people were wearing face coverings and not attending large social gatherings seem to be contained; those where people were not as careful appear to be creating more spread, with many more contacts being identified in our investigations.

There have been those that have questioned the effectiveness of face coverings, but Health Services’ investigations have demonstrated far fewer people are exposed in cases where infected individuals regularly wore masks.  As a reminder, we wear face coverings because it makes it less likely we will unknowingly spread COVID-19 to others, not to protect ourselves.  If you have not already, please make masking a priority.

How does increasing cases affect social movement and reopening?
In other areas of the state, rises in cases have been followed in a week or two by a rise in hospitalizations.  We will be limiting any further relaxation of restrictions until seeing how this change in case numbers unfolds.  If we continue to see worrisome increases throughout the week, we may need to reconsider some of our current approaches to businesses and activities. 

Increasing cases are already driving changes around the State:
• The Governor recommended Imperial County in Southern California return to Shelter-in-Place status, due to rising cases and full hospitals. 
• The State is also recommending counties on their “monitoring list” close bars until they are off of the monitoring list.

Lake County is not on this list, but it gives some insight into how things could evolve if the situation continues to worsen.  While we are not currently adding back any restrictions, no further relaxation can occur at this point.

Large Gatherings Pose Significant Risk – What About the 4th of July?
An understanding of the biggest risk is emerging-- large social gatherings, especially when indoors-- so these activities will be particularly discouraged. 

Some have already been asking about 4th of July.  Festivities planned for next weekend are not being cancelled at this point.  Lakeport will not have community fireworks, but “safe and sane” firework sales are continuing.  Clearlake is planning a modified celebration, including drive-in viewing of community fireworks and some food vendors, but parking will be limited and social distancing and masks will be required. 

Planners have been diligent in making these events as safe as possible, so we intend to allow them to go forward.  If our numbers get much worse, however, these plans will have to be revisited.

Demographic Information to be Published Monday, 6/29
I had previously stated we would present demographic information regarding Lake County’s cases when we reached 50.  That information will be published tomorrow.  We will include age ranges, gender, location in the county (divided by the 5 districts), and general mode of contact.  This information will be posted on the Lake County Coronavirus Response Hub, and will be updated weekly.  The hub can be found here:
https://lake-co-ca-coronavirus-response-lakecoca.hub.arcgis.com

Personal Choices Slow the Spread
In this time of expanding infections in our community, personal choices can be very important in limiting the spread and allowing businesses and activities to continue to operate. 

Please do what you can to support your community:
• Wear a mask when close to other people.  This is particularly important when:
   o Indoors and around others outside of your household;
   o Whenever interacting with people fewer than six feet away;
   o Patronizing businesses;
   o Working in close contact with co-workers or customers, even while outside;
   o In high-traffic areas, or situations where maintaining social distancing is difficult, like in vehicles, elevators, and hallways
• Avoid large social gatherings
• Keep physical distancing of 6 feet from anyone outside of your immediate household
• Protect and support folks vulnerable to severe complications

More Lake County-specific COVID-19 information is available on the County of Lake Health Services Department’s website:
http://health.co.lake.ca.us/Coronavirus.htm

Statewide and County-specific COVID-19 data can be found at https://update.covid19.ca.gov.
 
CDPH’s Press Releases, including daily summaries of recent trends, are posted here:
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/New-Release-2020.aspx
 
If you review this information and have questions, reach out to Health Services staff, at MHOAC@lakecountyca.gov, or 707-263-8174.
 
Gary Pace, MD, MPH

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Coronavirus
COVID-19 Death

The exact circumstances are still being investigated, but this person became ill at home, was transported by ambulance, and died in the Emergency Department; they later tested positive for COVID-19.

Death info