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June 14, 2021

Covid-19 cases, deaths surge to new highs in Monterey County

Monterey County Coroner’s Office sets up mobile morgue as ‘precautionary step’ in light of capacity concerns

MONTEREY COUNTY — Thousands of new cases and dozens of deaths related to Covid-19 have been reported in Monterey County since the beginning of the new year, less than two weeks ago.

According to California’s Covid-19 reporting system, last updated Jan. 12, Monterey County’s virus numbers have increased by 6,487 cases and 57 deaths in the past 14 days — up 24.1% and 30%, respectively, from the prior 14-day total.

Since Dec. 31, 55 residents have died from the virus, including 10 deaths reported Saturday and a startling 20 added last Tuesday, which was a three-day cumulative total due to changes with the state’s reporting system. 

Another five deaths were reported yesterday from over the weekend, and an additional death was added in Wednesday’s latest report from the Monterey County Health Department.

The recent spike brings the countywide death total to 248 residents since tracking began last March.

“Our thoughts are with the loved ones of all of the individuals,” said the health department on its social media Jan. 8. 

On Monday, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office announced that the Monterey County Coroner’s Office obtained a 53-foot refrigeration trailer as a “precautionary step” in light of capacity concerns resulting from the Covid-19 deaths.

Only the Coroner’s Office staff will have access to the mobile trailer, set up outside the department in Salinas.

“Recently, county facilities such as our hospitals, private mortuaries and the Monterey County Coroner’s Office neared capacity,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. “It is unknown if utilization of the trailer will be required, but exceeding capacity limits in existing facilities is not an acceptable situation and the acquisition of this asset should eliminate that risk.”

Monterey County Coroner’s Office has obtained a 53-foot refrigeration trailer in light of capacity concerns resulting from Covid-19 deaths. (MCSO Photo)

Wednesday’s data also showed a total of 34,072 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Monterey County, an increase of 311 cases from yesterday’s report. The county has reported 6,213 new cases of the virus since Dec. 31.

Salinas has the most confirmed cases at 15,842, followed by South County at 10,543, Peninsula/Big Sur at 4,120 and North County at 3,567, as of Wednesday.

Within South County, Soledad and Greenfield have the most cases — 5,123 and 2,209, respectively. King City is next with 1,766 cases, followed by Gonzales with 1,120, Chualar with 162, San Ardo with 86 and San Lucas with 44. There are also 33 cases classified as “other.”

With regard to race and ethnicity, the majority of residents infected are Hispanic and Latino (19,208 cases, or 56.37%); however, there are 11,855 cases, or 34.79%, that are classified as “unknown and under investigation.” The next highest is among white residents (1,720 cases, or 5.05%).

There are currently 207 residents who are hospitalized in the county, 25 of whom are in the intensive care unit (ICU). As of Wednesday, ICU bed availability in the Bay Area Region, which includes Monterey County, was at 4.7%.

In addition, the total number of county residents who have recovered from Covid-19 is 13,988, leaving 20,084 active cases as of the latest data available.

Dr. Edward Moreno, the county’s health officer, presented test positivity rates during the Monterey County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. The area’s highest rates are: Gonzales (44%), East Salinas (42.5%), Chualar (41.6%), Greenfield (41.6%), San Lucas (39.4%), King City (38.2%) and Soledad (37.7%).

On Jan. 7, Monterey County Health Department announced that its laboratory has been screening for new variants of Covid-19; however, officials confirmed there have been none detected in the county to date.

“Monterey County Health Department will communicate with our local medical community and the public should one of the new variants be detected among Monterey County residents,” the county said.

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.

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