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Tuolumne Reports First COVID-19 Deaths; Prepares For Watchlist Actions

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Sonora, CA – Two men have become the first two coronavirus-related casualties in Tuolumne County and five new cases reported since Friday, bringing the total to 131, have a watch list action in the wings.

According to Tuolumne County Public Health officials, one of the men was in his 60s with no known underlying health conditions that contributed to his illness. The other, in his 80s, had some underlying health conditions. Due to medical privacy concerns, no other details were released.

“We want to share our heartfelt condolences with the families and loved ones in this difficult time,” stated Dr. Liza Ortiz, Interim Tuolumne County Health Officer. “These deaths are a sobering reminder of the severity of COVID-19. Our actions affect the lives of those around us and our whole community. Tuolumne County must act to slow the rate of transmission and protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.”

Ortiz’s office reported five new cases since Friday, which includes one case confirmed Saturday, two on Sunday, and two today.

According to the doctor, the number of new cases brings the county’s 14-day case rate to 110.79/100k or 110 cases per 100,000 population, which continues exceeding the 100/100k mark, which is one of the metrics for the state’s county data monitoring program.

“This is now our fifth day of a 14-day case rate exceeding 100/100k. There is a delay in state reporting, so we will not appear on the state’s list immediately and no action will be taken until we are officially on the list and have gone through the established process with the state,” Ortiz shares.

“When we remain at this case rate according to the state reporting system for three consecutive days, we will be added to the state ‘watchlist’. Other metrics for the watchlist are the number of COVID hospitalizations, regular and ICU hospital bed availability, and case positivity rate. When a county is on the watchlist for three consecutive days, they must implement more restrictive closures and mitigation measures as determined by the state, including schools starting the year with distance learning only.”