Last week, Fort Bragg had its first local resident to be diagnosed with COVID-19. This person had traveled outside the community and became ill shortly after returning home. The person was seen in our ER, where the diagnosis was made, however, did not require admission to the hospital and is currently isolating at home. The County Health Department is handling any necessary contact tracing.
As we continue to slowly roll back on shelter-in-place requirements, we will see more travel in and out of our community. This will include such things as local residents traveling outside to visit family, friends of ours traveling here to visit us and people coming to the Coast to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the cities for the past 2-3 months. With this travel, we will also see cases of COVID locally.
Our hospital and clinics, both North Coast Family Health Center (NCFHC) and Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC), are prepared to take care of anyone who may become infected. Thanks to the strong shelter-in-place mandate, we have had time to make such preparations. Also, thanks to this mandate, we do not expect to see an overwhelming surge as initially predicted, but instead a slow rise in cases which should be completely manageable.
This reality also makes it very important for us to have adequate surveillance testing all along the Coast. Implementing such remains a challenge largely due to a lack of availability of COVID testing on the scale needed. A group of local leaders including Mayor Will Lee, Ft Bragg City Manager Tabatha Miller, MCC Director Lucresha Renteria, MCDH Administrator Judy Leach and myself are working closely with Dr. Doohan of the County Health Department to increase the number of community tests being done locally. It will be helpful for local residents to contact their County and State representatives to request their assistance in helping us achieve this important goal.
In the meantime, our hospital and clinics remain a safe place to get your health care. I know that some folks have avoided getting needed care due to fears around this epidemic. I encourage anyone who may have personal health issues to not hold back, but to seek the care that they need.
Lastly, we have all been living under an increased amount of stress as this pandemic has unfolded. I ask that all of us continue to treat each other with respect and compassion. Times like this allow us to demonstrate who we really are as a community.
— William Miller, MD, Chief of Staff at MCDH