In an ever-changing set of figures released by Stanislaus County, at least five people in Ceres have been diagnosed with Covid-19.
On Wednesday the county Public Health Department said there were 44 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 22 hospitalized.
Fifteen with the virus live in Modesto. Ten patients live in the unincorporated part of Stanislaus County, two in Riverbank and one in Turlock.
The gender breakdown of Stanislaus County residents with Covid-19 are 21 females and 18 males.
Two are 17 years of age or younger; 14 are between the ages of 18 and 49; 15 between the ages of 50 and 64 and eight at least 65 years or older.
California reported 8,155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday and 171 deaths. Most of those cases are in Los Angeles County (3,001) and in Santa Clara (777) and San Diego (736) counties. Over 90,200 tests have been conducted.
On Wednesday, Public Health Officer Julie Vaishampayan issued an order that all county residents – with the exception of those with essential jobs – stay at home and eliminate all non-essential travel or face a misdemeanor citation. She is asking police chiefs and the sheriff to enforce the order through education but hinted at “other means of enforcement” as deemed appropriate.
The intent of the order is to implement Executive Order N-33-20, issued by Governor Newsom on March 19, and to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their homes or places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible.
“When people need to leave their homes or places of residence, whether to obtain or perform vital services, or to otherwise facilitate authorized activities necessary for continuity of social and commercial life, they should at all times as reasonably possible comply ·with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 11 of this Order,” the order read. “Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat to public health.”
Residents have not been told to refrain from walking or exercising outdoors. “To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence,” the order reads.
Homeless persons are exempt from the order but are strongly urged to obtain shelter. The county cautioned homeless persons from being in encampments of more than 10 people.
The county order acknowledges that some who contract the COVID-19 virus have no symptoms or have mild symptoms and they may not be aware they carry it. Vaishampayan said people without symptoms can spread COVID-19, and because evidence shows the disease is easily spread, public activities can result in preventable transmission of the virus. The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.
Health officials say that self-quarantine efforts will reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and deaths from it. They also fear the capacity of healthcare systems in the county will be overwhelmed if people do not refrain from contacting one another.
The state’s list of essential jobs includes banks, health care and public health facilities, retail stores that supply essential sectors, including convenience stores, pet supply stores, auto supplies and repair, hardware and home improvement, and home appliance retailers, drug stores, gas stations, auto repair shops, behavioral health workers, blood and plasma donors, workers who provide support to vulnerable populations to ensure their health and well-being including family care providers, security guards, funeral industry workers, veterinarian services, public works, newspaper and TV media, IT technicians, agricultural workers and food processors, and workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplement retail. The entire list may be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/img/EssentialCriticalInfrastructureWorkers.pdf
Stanislaus County, like the rest of the world, is grappling with a shortage of tests for the virus. Dr. Vaishampayan said California counties are prioritizing tests for those already in the hospital and those living in congregate settings, like an assisted living facility.
“In a perfect world we would like to test everybody that wants to be tested, needs to be tested, but no there are not enough tests to go around right now,” said Dr. Vaishampayan. “There is a shortage of many things in the supply chain needed for testing.
“We are testing people where we need to know to make a difference in spread.”
There is drive-through testing in Stanislaus County, but it is only for people referred by their doctor and is by appointment only. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency is not testing.
There are also global shortages of needed medical supplies like ventilators and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Tom Letras, speaking on behalf of the Stanislaus Office of Emergency Services, said the region has 92 ventilators.
"We recognize and understand that 92 ventilators may not be enough in the event of a surge, so we are continually working with the state and other medical facilities in order to try and get more ventilators to make sure we have enough in the event we might need them," Letras said.
Stanislaus County received a shipment of personal protective equipment on Thursday and distributed them out to area medical facilities, according to Letras.
“We still don’t have everything we would like to have, but we are continually working on building our stock and getting it out to our medical facilities,” he continued.
“Now we understand you can’t just stay in your house 24 hours, seven days a week,” Letras said. “You may need to get out and get groceries. You may need to get prescriptions. What we are telling you is to leave as little as possible. Stay home. Stay safe. If you have to go out, use precautions.”
Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said on Tuesday the Sheriff’s Department has seen a sharp decrease in the number of people out and about in the community, but that stricter adherence is still needed. He said the department has received numerous comments and complaints about people gathering together, especially at parks.
“It’s okay to take your dog for a walk,” Dirkse said. “It’s okay to be with someone from your household. What’s not okay is to go play basketball in a group. That is not social distancing. Parents, we are also going to ask you to please talk to your kids about this. Many of the comments that we have are specifically related to youth and the fact that they seem to be the ones ignoring some of these social distancing guidelines.”
Dirkse said there are also some non-essential businesses that remain open and are asking for the public’s help in bringing them into compliance.
“We have been in the middle of an education role and we are moving into an active enforcement role with those businesses and there’s multiple steps to take with this,” Dirkse said. “The first is direct contact, might just be a phone call to that business owner. We are going to follow up with some more severe measures. So, what we would ask that you do is share that information with your friends, families and with any of the communities that you are in. Let those businesses know that they need to comply with this order to prevent the spread of this disease.”
The Sheriff’s Department said they got around 50 reports of open non-essential businesses just in one day after posting on Facebook information to report these businesses. Dirkse said the department is forwarding the information to the appropriate state, city and county authorities and that these businesses could face regulatory consequences for not following the order.
“For example, a bar that remains open might lose its state liquor license if it does not close,” wrote Dirkse on his Facebook page.
People who see a business that’s open that they believe should be closed, can email HSA-COVIDemail@example.com.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, a dry cough, and body aches. Severe cases of COVID-19 might experience difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). This occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
Health officials recommend people:
- Wash hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
- Cover a cough or sneeze with your sleeve, or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Stay away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
People may receive updates about COVID-19 in Stanislaus County by texting STANCOVID19 (all caps) to 888777 to receive updates from the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services.
(Sabra Stafford contributed to this report).