Sonoma County resident dies from COVID-19 complications, raising death toll to 12 during pandemic – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma County health officials reported late Monday that another local resident has died from complications of the new coronavirus, increasing to 12 the number of fatalities during the pandemic since it emerged in March.

The unidentified woman died Saturday, and was over 65, said Rohish Lal, a spokesman for the county Department of Services. He had no other information to disclose about the person, where she died, or where, when and how she contracted the infectious disease.

The latest death comes just days after two people died on July 2. Since June 28, seven people have died from COVID-19, including two people between the ages of 50 and 64. At least four of them had been living at skilled nursing or residential care facilities before they died, underscoring the potentially dire consequences of recent outbreaks of the highly infectious virus at senior care homes.

The county also revealed online Monday night that there were 114 new infections between Saturday and Monday, boosting total infections to 1,466 countywide since the first case on March 2. There are 681 active cases, while 773 people have recovered. has been spreading rapidly through several sectors of Sonoma County, including in senior nursing centers and among farm workers, leaving the county on the verge of landing on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist this week, the top local public health official said Monday.

What’s more, many of the new infections are from unknown sources in the community, a troubling indicator for a county that had bent the virus curve in the spring with an unprecedented stay-at-home order but has seen the infectious disease come roaring back.

Once on the state’s monitoring list — which includes 24 counties as of Monday evening, local health officials would be forced to reinstate certain public health restrictions if Sonoma County is unable to quickly reduce the sharp increase in virus infections and the growing number of stricken residents needing hospital care.

At this point, state health officials are asking counties that have been on the monitoring list for more than three days to temporarily halt indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and wineries. In addition, these counties grappling with virus outbreaks are having to close bars, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums for up to three weeks.

“We’re right there on the threshold of the watchlist, and I fully expect that if our case numbers continue the way that they have been, that we’ll on the watchlist this week,“ Sonoma County Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said Monday, during her press briefing.

State health officials would call local public health officials to officially notify them Sonoma County has joined the group of counties being monitored. However, Mase said the county also could start a discussion with state health counterparts about what next steps should occur to better fight the virus.

On Monday, state officials said a greater share of virus tests are coming back positive, a key indication of wider virus spread in communities across California. Hospitalizations related to the new coronavirus also are increasing statewide.

Counties that fail to meet a half dozen or more state benchmarks showing satisfactory progress slowing spread of the pathogen are ending up on the state’s monitoring list. Surpassing these metrics include: having a 14-day case rate of greater than 100 infections per 100,000 residents; a hospitalization increase more than 10% over a 3-day period; hospital intensive-care bed availability of less than 20%; and fewer than 25% of ventilators available at local hospitals for coronavirus patients.

Sonoma County’s COVID-19 case rate overall case rate per 100,000 residents ballooned to 106 as of July 4, after officials reported a daily record of 92 new infections on Friday and 40% of the more than 1,350 overall pandemic infections since March 2 during the past two weeks. The county also reported a 47% increase in virus patients hospitalized over the past three days at one of six area hospitals, and open ICU beds have dwindled to only 9% of total intensive care beds.

Mase said recently she’s been in frequent contact with officials of county hospitals about the possible need to boost available hospital beds, including ICU space, if COVID-19 infections continue spiking and leading to a flood of hospital patients.

“They’re prepared, they know what they need to do if we have a surge. They’re already making plans to eventually pare back the elective surgeries,” Mase said Monday. “It’s something they can pretty much do very quickly.”

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