Cases on the Rise in Mendocino County

Miller Report for the Week of July 6th, 2020

By William Miller, MD – Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital

Mendocino County is beginning to see a rise in cases with 92 identified as of this writing, which is a 20% increase from two weeks ago.  It should be noted that this represents all the cases thus far going back to March and that 85 of those have recovered.  None the less, it looks like it may be the start of an exponential increase, and if so, would mean that the County is about to have a significant outbreak.  Currently, most of the cases are in-land.  This is probably occurring now because of the relaxed restrictions that happened around Memorial Day weekend.  We can also expect to see a similar boosting in cases as a result of the Fourth of July weekend.  If this continues, we will start seeing a rise in cases here on the Coast.

Sherwood Oaks is our community’s skilled nursing facility with 58 residents.  One of their employees recently tested positive for COVID on Monday afternoon with the result coming back late Monday night.  Will Maloney, Administrator of Sherwood Oaks, stated that immediately upon learning of the result he and his staff started working with the County Health Department to respond appropriately.  “We are in the process of notifying all residents and their families of the situation and the steps that we are taking to minimize the chance that this will become an outbreak at our facility.”

According to Dr. John Cottle, Medical Director of Sherwood Oaks, this staff person last worked at the facility on Friday.  An early assessment of the case suggests that this person most likely got infected from a family member and not from work.  Dr. Cottle stated that at this time no other staff members or residents are showing any symptoms.  “We are working with the Health Department to now test 100% of all of our residents and staff,” he said.  “We have always followed the CDC and State guidelines regarding COVID and we shall continue to do so.”

While this person does not work at our hospital, the hospital is fully prepared to respond if there is an outbreak at our local nursing home.  I have been in touch with the new Deputy Health Officer for Mendocino, Dr. Mollie Charon, so that the hospital can help Sherwood Oaks stay ahead of the situation.  Adventist Health has recently responded to a request from Sherwood Oaks by donating to them 2,000 medical masks and 120 isolation gowns.

As cases continue to rise nationwide, with several hot spots in the South and Southwest, we are starting to see a shortage of COVID test supplies like we had a few months ago.  We had made recent progress in expanding testing, both to people with symptoms as well as community surveillance.  Hopefully, we will not see a falling back of that progress that had been made. 

What we are seeing happening in Northern California mirrors what is happening in many places around the US.  It underscores the continued need for vigilant use of face coverings, social distancing and frequent handwashing.

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