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Calaveras Prevents Spread Of Two COVID-19 Cases But Preparing For More

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San Andreas, CA — Calaveras County Health officials appear to have stopped the spread of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Copperopolis, but looking ahead, big-picture, the county is preparing for more cases over the coming several weeks.

(Tuolumne County has had no confirmed cases to this point).

Calaveras County Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita says the investigation into the two cases in Copperopolis began on March 10. As reported earlier, it was a parent and child who tested positive, and it was contracted by the parent who works outside the county in the healthcare field. Unknowing at the time, the child, who attends Copperopolis Elementary, was in class for several days while considered infectious to others.

In response, public health disease investigators interviewed over 60 people, and they included parents of other students, teachers, school staff and other community contacts.

Dr. Kelaita says, “This was important to determine if anyone was developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 illness. Any symptomatic contacts were instructed by public health staff to isolate themselves from others in the community for at least 14 days from the onset of their symptoms to protect others from potential infection.”

13 of those people received coronavirus tests because of their close contact with the infected individuals, and all of those came back negative, according to Dr. Kelaita, adding “No further cases of coronavirus in connection with these two confirmed cases have occurred.”

Looking ahead, at this morning’s board of supervisors meeting, Dr. Kelaita admitted that he expects more confirmed cases to occur in Calaveras County, and said there are likely people currently infected locally who just don’t know it yet.

He said testing remains limited due to a lack of current resources. He said he is aware of 60 tests that have occurred in the county.

The public health department is only required to hear about positive tests.

On the topic of working with local partners, Dr. Kelaita says, “Public Health is working with Mark Twain Medical Center on surge capacity to expand patient care from 25 beds to 50 beds. That’s a doubling of the local hospital capacity.”

They are also working to increase ICU capacity in an anticipation of increased need.

Schools are currently closed in Calaveras until April 6, but a meeting is scheduled for later today with superintendents to discuss the timeline and whether it should be extended.

He stresses, “We have a long way to go here. Everyone in our community needs to cooperate with the mitigation actions of maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet between others, avoiding mass gatherings, strict handwashing, and cough etiquette. These actions are especially important for those at higher risk of complications and hospitalizations from COVID-19 infection. This includes those over 65 years old and those with chronic health conditions.”

During this time of high stress, instead of fear, Dr. Kelaiata asked that residents “channel it into concern and vigilance,” in taking needed steps, and not anger and hostility towards others.

Governor Gavin Newsom is still directing all Californians to stay at home. 1,700 positive cases have been reported in California.