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Health Department Delivers Update On COVID-19

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Sonora, CA — After holding the position for a short period over five months ago, Dr. Eric Sergeinko was back serving as Interim Health Officer for Tuolumne County at today’s board of supervisors meeting.

Dr. Sergienko is Mariposa County’s full-time Public Health Officer, and he has agreed to also serve as Tuolumne County’s Interim Public Health Officer while the county continues to search for a full-time replacement for Dr. Bob Bernstein.

Dr. Liza Ortiz served in the Interim position for the most recent five months, but she resigned effective this past Friday. Members of the board thanked both Dr. Sergienko for coming back, and Dr. Ortiz for her service.

Dr. Sergienko noted that there have been 216 total COVID-19 cases in Tuolumne County, 193 people have recovered, and six cases are still active. There are also 14 Sierra Conservation Center inmate cases not included in the county count. In addition, there have been three confirmed COVID-19 deaths. He also highlighted regional partnerships, including the Yosemite Gateway Area Coordination Team and the San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium.

He noted that Tuolumne County remains in the orange Moderate Tier 3 category when it comes to state-mandated business restrictions. Some businesses that are allowed to be open indoors, with modifications, are restaurants, gyms, salons, barbershops, cultural ceremonies, churches, wineries, retail, childcare and personal care services. Businesses that must remain closed are concert venues, festivals, live theaters and nightclubs. Bars and breweries can only operate outdoors.

In order to drop to the next tier, yellow, the county must have a positivity rate of about one case over a seven day period.   The criteria must be met for two consecutive weeks. At that point, businesses like bars would be able to reopen indoors. Dr. Sergienko indicated that Mariposa County was getting closer to meeting that threshold, but Tuolumne County is still seeing well over one new case per week.

Some schools in the past week have begun the process of reopening. Asked about whether he has heard of any cases of COVID-19 reported in response to the reopening, Dr. Sergienko responded, “I have not within the state of California at this point in time, so I think that is something that as a state, and a region, we’ll need to pay attention to because we’re about 1-2 weeks in for a lot of in-person schools. We have had reports in other states of transmission in schools, but not in our state.”

The health department also noted that the new Education and Compliance Division of the Health Department has received 27 complaints over the past two weeks about local businesses not being in compliance with COVID-19 health protocols. 67-percent of the facilities are now successfully addressing the complaints, and when accounting for complaints not applicable, closer to 80-percent of the businesses complained about are in compliance.