Before Christmas In Sonoma County, as many as 680 per 100,000 residents have been getting examined every day. That’s about 3,400 every day exams countywide. Testing quantity dipped through the vacation season, earlier than once more growing through the first week of January. County officers this week reported the every day testing charge had dropped to about 490 exams, solely barely above the state’s median testing charge of 425 every day exams per 100,000 residents.
As a part of the statewide pandemic reopening course of, counties obtain an adjustment primarily based on native testing quantity relative to the state median testing charge. If the native testing charge is bigger than the state median, the county’s every day virus case charge — a key measure of COVID-19 transmission — is adjusted downward to account for the higher variety of new infections being discovered.
The state assesses all counties’ virus transmission benchmarks each Tuesday.
Last week, Sonoma County’s testing quantity dipped beneath the state median, so the county’s every day case charge was adjusted upward from 20.8 to 21.2 per 100,000 residents. This week, with a testing charge barely surpassing the state median, the county’s every day case charge was adjusted from 15.3 to 13.8 every day circumstances per 100,000 individuals.
The county must push that case, or every day charge of latest virus infections, all the way down to 7 or much less per 100,000 residents, with a purpose to qualify to advance underneath the state’s reopening plan and carry extra limits on most companies. For instance, the county’s restaurant sector stays restricted to out of doors eating and takeout. During the latest winter surge, solely takeout service was permitted.
“Testing can assist detect COVID circumstances early, and cease potential outbreaks,” Mase stated. “And it additionally will assist us reopen our financial system.”
Identifying virus mutations
As new coronavirus variants, each international and homegrown, start to emerge, public well being consultants underscore the significance of testing to identify them.
Dr. John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley infectious illness professional, stated that with out enough testing finished, it’s troublesome to trace the trajectory of the virus. But additionally, he stated, inadequate testing cripples public well being officers’ skill to guage the function coronavirus variants are enjoying, and will probably be enjoying, within the pandemic.
“Without testing, we’re blind,” Swartzberg stated.
D’Arcy Richardson, Sonoma County’s director of nursing for COVID-19 response, agreed. Testing is crucial for monitoring COVID-19 mutations, she stated, a few of which may make the virus extra transmissible.
“If we don’t have individuals getting examined, then we will’t try this genotyping to search for these new strains from South Africa, from the UK, from Brazil,” Richardson stated. “It’s actually vital for us to know what’s occurring to have the ability to mitigate and cease that transmission as shortly as potential once we begin to see these strains … that would make these fantastic vaccination efforts much less efficient.”
Fewer exams at hospitals
County public well being information present vital declines in testing carried out on the native public well being lab, the county’s three giant hospitals and at state-contracted OptumServe public testing websites.
For instance, Kaiser Permanente went from doing greater than 5,420 coronavirus exams throughout first full week of January, to 2,871 through the first week of February. Public well being lab testing plunged from a excessive of practically 5,000 exams through the week beginning Dec. 6, 2020, to 2,820 within the first week of February.
Locally, OptumServe, which reached a excessive of practically 5,000 exams through the first week of January, has dropped to 2,650 exams through the first week of this month. Also, testing at native well being clinics has declined considerably throughout that interval, in accordance with county public well being information.
Providence St. Joseph Health, which runs Santa Rosa Memorial, Petaluma Valley and Healdsburg hospitals, went from 1,128 weekly virus exams to 819, throughout that very same month-to-month stretch.
Dr. Chad Krilich, Providence St. Joseph Health’s chief medical officer, stated the COVID-19 exams included these administered in emergency rooms, pressing care facilities or within the hospitals. The declines, he stated, might be brought on by an precise lower in coronavirus transmission, or probably individuals’s lack of curiosity to be examined.
“Ultimately, my concern is that we don’t neglect what it’s that we have to do with a purpose to see us via this part of the pandemic,” Krilich stated, citing virus exams as a crucial merchandise.
You can attain Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or [email protected] On Twitter @pressreno.