The 420 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Mendocino County last month was twice the number reported in October (210), and Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo warned this week that there are now simply too many cases for contact tracers to handle.
“All the numbers are increasing significantly, and are higher than we’ve ever seen before, to the point where it is causing significant issues with being able to do contact tracing,” Sangiacomo told the Ukiah City Council at its last virtual meeting Wednesday. “And now contact tracing is, in fact, limited to those that are at higher risk of transmitting to a larger population base, such as first responders.
“Those who are in quarantine who might not be in that higher risk category are being asked to basically contact their close contacts directly,” he continued. “So there are definitely strains on the system related to contact tracing given the larger numbers that we are seeing.”
Mendocino County spokeswoman and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Sarah Dukett confirmed Friday that the surging numbers of Covid-19 cases had overwhelmed the county’s contact tracers, particularly over the weekend, but that the county has “had higher numbers for weeks now.” Dukett said more information would be released Friday afternoon during the Public Health Office’s regular update.
Sangiacomo also said that on Tuesday, the Mendocino County dashboard of data listed 398 people in quarantine (after close contact with a positive case) and 225 in isolation (after testing positive), and explained that the “number in isolation represents known, active cases, which is a higher case load and count than we’ve had before.”
Sangiacomo also pointed to the county’s positivity rate, which he said was increasing despite the increase in the number of tests being given. On Dec. 3, the Mendocino County Public Health Office reported that the percentage of positive cases was 4.31 percent. On Nov. 1, that number was 3.73 percent.
“Sometimes you’ll see the percent positivity rate increase if there’s not enough testing being done, but in the state of California and county of Mendocino, we’re actually doing more testing,” he said, explaining that the high percentage of positive cases statewide was creating concern about the “impact to our medical providers, so all of those numbers needed to be tracked very carefully.”
In spite of the sometimes staggering numbers, however, Sangiacomo advised residents and the council that, “we still control, in part, our own destiny. Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be a political issue – if you want to keep our businesses open, wear a mask. If we want to control our own destiny here in Ukiah, doing what we can, limiting gatherings, wearing a mask, socially distancing and proper hygiene, goes a long way.
“What is going on in our personal lives could, and does, have a direct impact on our economy and our small businesses,” Sangiacomo continued. “I appeal to everybody to do their part so that we can keep our businesses open and we don’t have draconian measures placed on us that limits unnecessarily our economic activity. Because that has a significant adverse impact on top of the virus itself.
“If we lose businesses at this time, regaining the backbone of our community, the mom and pop businesses, those can’t recover quickly,” he said. “If we lose those businesses, the likelihood that they will be back when the vaccine is out, is very slim. And the ability for them to rebound is much harder than the big box retailers and other businesses. So let’s all do our part to help keep our businesses open and support our business community here locally.”
On Thursday, the county Public Health Office reported that 14 new cases had been reported for a total of 1,671. The number of patients hospitalized at the time was six, with two people in the Intensive Care Unit. The number in quarantine was reduced to 373, and the number in isolation was also lower at 215.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)