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Fourth person recovers from coronavirus in Sonoma County; 39 total diagnosed

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How To Reduce Your Risk

Local health officials urge practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as the flu or coronavirus. This includes:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes and face
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeved elbow
• Stay home when ill
• Get a flu shot, and it’s not too late this season

Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services

For more information, go to sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Information-About-Coronavirus.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the county’s 24-hour information hotline at 211 or 800-325-9604. You can also text "COVID19" to 211211 for coronavirus information.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

Sonoma County’s health department is stepping up its efforts to identify who may have been exposed to coronavirus by expanding investigations into the lives of the 39 local residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, a caseload that rose by five Wednesday.

Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said she is conscripting workers from other divisions of the health department to join the communicable disease team being trained this weekend by an expert in tracking and stemming the spread of tuberculosis. The time-intensive work involves reaching out to everyone who may have been exposed, from family members, coworkers, acquaintances and others, and keeping regular contact with them over a period of two weeks.

“We’ve got to evaluate them, make sure they’re not symptomatic, put them on notice they need to stay out of the community and if they develop any symptoms to immediately seek care,” Mase said. “We’re really stepping that up now.”

The source of infection for about 30% of the people diagnosed was unknown Wednesday. Nine have been determined to have originated from recent travel, 11 people contracted the virus via community spread and seven were infected after coming into “close contact” with a person known to have the novel coronavirus, which is known to cause the respiratory disease COVID-19.

One man in his 60s who had been hospitalized with the disease died last week.

County officials say four people have recovered and 34 cases are considered active.

The numbers are based on limited testing that has taken place in the county, hampered in part by a shortage of swabs needed to take samples from patients.

Mase said county medical officials have been acquiring additional supplies and are working to get more and that she’s depending on local doctors being proactive about testing patients with symptoms to help the county build a better picture of how many people may have been exposed to coronavirus and identify those who may be infectious and at risk of spreading the virus to others.

“From this point on, I’ve told our providers if you think someone has COVID-19 they need to be tested,” Mase said.

Sonoma County residents like all Californians remain under isolation orders meant to limit the chance people with the virus might infect others.

So far, about 5% of the 775 tests for COVID-19 conducted in Sonoma County have come back positive, according to county data.

Mase urged providers to send tests to Sonoma County’s public health lab, which has the capacity to conduct between 100 and 120 tests each day and is so far not seeing that level of demand. She has also issued guidance urging doctors to prioritize testing for first responders in law enforcement, fire and medical professions. The county is exploring alternative sites where they can isolate themselves away from their families if they believe they’ve been exposed, she said.

“I’ve told our health care providers we want to reach that capacity,” Mase said of the lab. “Our public health lab is turning results quicker (than commercial labs) within 24 hours.”

Mase has said she’s waiting for the number of confirmed cases to hit 50 before she will release any demographic information about the people who have contracted coroanvirus here.

She and other county officials have steadfastly refused to provide demographic details about people diagnosed with the virus, and have also refused to share with the public how many people are being treated at area hospitals, citing broad patient privacy rules despite the preponderance of local and state governments that have released far more detailed breakdowns.

Since reaching four cases in mid-March, Sonoma County has added an average of more than two cases per day, including 11 last Friday. Mase said she expects more cases every day as county emergency officials and area hospitals brace for the possibility of a surge in sickness in the weeks ahead.

There were 471,518 cases worldwide Wednesday night, with 21,293 deaths. The United States had nearly reached the 70,000 cases Wednesday night, with 1,046 deaths.

In California, 3,169 people have tested positive for coronavirus, and 67 people have died.

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

The Press Democrat wants to know what stories you see emerging and what you’re experiencing locally during the shelter-in-place order. Reach out to us at coronavirus@pressdemocrat.com.

How To Reduce Your Risk

Local health officials urge practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as the flu or coronavirus. This includes:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes and face
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeved elbow
• Stay home when ill
• Get a flu shot, and it’s not too late this season

Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services

For more information, go to sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Information-About-Coronavirus.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the county’s 24-hour information hotline at 211 or 800-325-9604. You can also text "COVID19" to 211211 for coronavirus information.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

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