Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Another 201 residents tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in Monterey County over the past five days, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to more than 1,000 countywide on Tuesday.

According to the latest report from Monterey County Health Department, data revealed a jump from 814 cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, June 11, to 1,015 cases in the June 16 tally. Tuesday’s report also showed that 598 residents have recovered from the respiratory disease so far, an increase of 83 recoveries since Thursday.

Two more deaths, however, were reported in the past week. There have now been 12 deaths related to Covid-19 in Monterey County as of Tuesday.

“We have initiated a new media campaign to remind folks that the threat of Covid-19 is still very real here in our communities,” said District 3 County Supervisor Chris Lopez in a Facebook post Monday. “Please take the recommended steps of physically distancing, frequent hand washing, wear a face covering, and stay home if you are sick. It sounds simple, but remains critically necessary.”

Elsa Jimenez, director of health for the county health department, spoke of eased restrictions causing a greater health risk while addressing a press briefing last week.

“There is going to be an opportunity now for more movement, not only within our county, but also from residents of other parts of the state or other parts of the nation, now that lodging for tourism has been allowed to reopen,” Jimenez said. “We know that there are many individuals who have Covid but are asymptomatic and therefore have not sought out to be tested or receive health care services.”

Jimenez cautioned that these asymptomatic individuals will now be outside at restaurants and businesses, when in previous weeks they would have been sheltering in place. She reminded of the need to wear face coverings, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet and make sure to wash hands frequently.

“Here in Monterey County, face coverings are required in most circumstances when we leave our homes,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, health officer for Monterey County. “Businesses still have a right to refuse service and that hasn’t changed.”

“If you are sick, please do not leave your residence,” Jimenez added.

The majority of those infected with Covid-19 are from the Salinas area (604), with the others from South County (277), North County (74) and the Peninsula and Big Sur area (60), according to Tuesday’s most recent data.

Within South County, the numbers have been broken down by zip code. King City (93930) has the most cases with 93, followed by Greenfield (93927) with 85, Soledad (93960) with 61 and Gonzales (93926) with 29. Nine cases are classified as “other” in South County.

King City had the largest increase of Covid-19 cases out of the four towns in the past two days, adding 10 new cases Monday and three on Tuesday. Greenfield and Soledad added another five and three cases, respectively, to their tallies in the latest reports.

“What’s really important for people to follow right now is to stick with your household grouping that you have been following up to now,” said Krista Hanni, program manger with the county health department. “Really still try to use the virtual methods to check in and talk with people outside your household grouping.”

Most of the county’s cases (530) had no known pre-existing medical conditions, and 87 residents have been hospitalized due to the virus. The latest data also shows the majority of Covid-19-infected residents work in the agriculture industry (393).

Screening and testing sites across Monterey County have completed Covid-19 testing for more than 15,394 residents as of June 16.

In comparison with nearby counties, San Luis Obispo County has reported 347 cases of Covid-19, 287 recoveries and one death as of June 15; Santa Cruz County has 257 cases, 202 recoveries and two deaths as of June 14; and San Benito County has 129 cases, 107 recoveries and two deaths as of June 15.

While Monterey County remains under shelter-in-place orders, the latest spike in Covid-19 cases comes as the state enters Stage 3 of the reopening process, which allows higher-risk workplaces — such as bars, gyms, movie theaters and campgrounds — to reopen under strict modifications to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Countywide efforts to socially distance, use face coverings, wash hands, clean and disinfect surfaces and stay at home as much as possible have slowed the spread of Covid-19,” Moreno said in a news release June 11. “In order to reopen safely, businesses will need to implement state guidance that protects workers and customers. Customers should also respect the efforts of our local business owners and their workers as they establish healthy practices that will protect us all.”

Last week Moreno stated that he has no intention to make public health guidelines more restrictive, considering how the continued easing of restrictions is being done slowly to keep infections down. He clarified the county and state are not determining that reopening establishments and services have not been deemed essential, but rather low risk.

“We’re going to get through this and we’re going to rebalance people getting back to work and helping our economy and making sure the health care system will be there,” Moreno said.

Additional reporting by Sean Roney.

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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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