COVID-19 surging in state, county

Not wearing a face mask? Not heading straight to a sink to wash your hands when you get home from the store? Not really paying attention to social distancing when in public? Maybe you need to understanding some basic facts about the coronavirus that is currently surging throughout the nation, and especially in California.


According the an interactive map developed by the New York Times, California had reported more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 as of Dec. 18. And, on that date, 48,500 new cases were reported. That was a 14-day increase of more than 125 percent. On Dec. 18, the state also experienced 286 deaths and a 14-day increase of nearly 130 percent.


Statewide, since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 1.8 million cases of the disease and at least 22,436 deaths.


As expected, our largest population centers have experienced the greatest number of cases. As of Dec. 18, Los Angeles County has had 596,910 cases; San Bernardino has had 151,113 cases; Riverside, 141,062; and San Diego, 120,526.


Madera County reported 8,574 cases of the disease, but our per capita (87.4 per 100,000 population) was higher than Orange County (86/100,000), San Diego (77/100,000), Santa Clara (64.5/100,000), Sacramento (60.1/100,000), and San Francisco (32.2/100,000).


The spike in new cases of the virus has put tremendous pressure on our hospitals. Between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10, Madera Community Hospital had 83 percent of its ICU beds occupied, with 33 COVID patients, and only two beds available. Fresno Heart Hospital had only one bed available. St. Agnes Medical Center had an ICU occupancy of 97 percent, 124 COVID patients, and one available bed. Clovis Community Medical Center reported 99 COVID patients and three beds available. Community Regional Medical Center was at 99 percent ICU occupancy, with 166 patients, and just one bed available. And Kaiser Permanente was the most impacted with 100 percent occupancy and no available ICU beds.


The good news that Moderna has received emergency use authorization that will supplement the EUA of the Pfizer vaccine should not overshadow the crisis that we are now facing. Based on current deliveries, it may be four months before the vaccine gets to Madera, and even longer before enough is available and delivered for the general population.


Meanwhile, it is important to understand how COVID-19 is transmitted. There are four factors that need to be taken into account: (1) how close one is to an infected person; (2) the length of time that one is in proximity to that person; (3) whether aerosol-like droplets are expelled by the person; and (4) whether one touches her or his own face after contact with an infected person. These factors are the reason that experts advise people to maintain social distancing, to wear a face mask, to wash hands well and often, and to avoid touching one’s face.

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