Masks re­duce risk as virus con­tin­ues to spread

Fort Bragg Advocate-News - - NEWS - Dr. Wil­liam Miller and Ta­batha Miller

MCDH Chief of Staff, Dr. Wil­liam Miller

Men­do­cino County is be­gin­ning to see a rise in cases with 92 iden­ti­fied as of this writ­ing, which is a 20 per­cent in­crease from two weeks ago. It should be noted that this rep­re­sents all the cases thus far go­ing back to March, and that 85 of those in­fected have re­cov­ered so far.

None­the­less, it looks like it may be the start of an ex­po­nen­tial in­crease, and if so, would mean that the county is about to have a sig­nif­i­cant out­break.

Cur­rently, most of the cases are in-land. This is prob­a­bly oc­cur­ring now be­cause of the re­laxed re­stric­tions that hap­pened around Me­mo­rial Day week­end. We can also ex­pect to see a sim­i­lar boost­ing in cases as a re­sult of the Fourth of July week­end. If this con­tin­ues, we will start see­ing a rise in cases here on the Coast.

Sher­wood Oaks is our com­mu­nity’s skilled nurs­ing fa­cil­ity with 58 res­i­dents. One of their em­ploy­ees re­cently tested pos­i­tive for COVID on Mon­day af­ter­noon with the re­sult coming back late Mon­day night.

Will Maloney, Ad­min­is­tra­tor of Sher­wood Oaks, stated that im­me­di­ately upon learn­ing of the re­sult he and his staff started work­ing with the County Health De­part­ment to re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately. “We are in the process of no­ti­fy­ing all res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies of the sit­u­a­tion and the steps that we are tak­ing to min­i­mize the chance that this will be­come an out­break at our fa­cil­ity.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. John Cot­tle, Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor of Sher­wood Oaks, this staff per­son last worked at the fa­cil­ity on Fri­day. An early as­sess­ment of the case sug­gests that this per­son most likely got in­fected from a fam­ily mem­ber and not from work. Dr. Cot­tle stated that at this time no other staff mem­bers or res­i­dents are show­ing any symp­toms.

“We are work­ing with the Health De­part­ment to now test 100 per­cent of all of our res­i­dents and staff,” he said. “We have al­ways fol­lowed the CDC and

State guide­lines re­gard­ing COVID and we shall con­tinue to do so.”

While this per­son does not work at our hospi­tal, the hospi­tal is fully pre­pared to re­spond if there is an out­break at our local nurs­ing home. I have been in touch with the new Deputy Health Of­fi­cer for Men­do­cino, Dr. Mol­lie Charon, so that the hospi­tal can help Sher­wood Oaks stay ahead of the sit­u­a­tion. Ad­ven­tist Health has re­cently re­sponded to a re­quest from Sher­wood Oaks by do­nat­ing 2,000 med­i­cal masks and 120 iso­la­tion gowns.

As cases con­tinue to rise na­tion­wide, with sev­eral hot spots in the South and South­west, we are start­ing to see a shortage of COVID test sup­plies like we had a few months ago. We had made re­cent progress in ex­pand­ing test­ing, both to peo­ple with symp­toms as well as com­mu­nity sur­veil­lance. Hope­fully, we will not see a fall­ing back of that progress that had been made.

What we are see­ing hap­pen­ing in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia mir­rors what is hap­pen­ing in many places around the US. It un­der­scores the con­tin­ued need for vig­i­lant use of face cov­er­ings, so­cial dis­tanc­ing and fre­quent hand­wash­ing.

Fort Bragg City Man­ager, Ta­batha Miller

As of July 3, masks or fa­cial cov­er­ings were re­quired in Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illi­nois, Kanas, Maine, Mary­land, Mas­sachusetts, Michi­gan, Ne­vada, New Jer­sey, New Mex­ico, North Carolina, Ore­gon, Penn­syl­va­nia, Rhode Is­land, Texas and Wash­ing­ton.

Many other coun­ties and cities around the coun­try have man­dated fa­cial cov­er­ings, in­clud­ing Men­do­cino County.

Wear­ing or not wear­ing a mask has be­come con­tro­ver­sial and for some a sym­bol of some­thing more. What it should be is a sym­bol of a way to re­duce the spread of COVID-19. Ac­cord­ing to Governor New­son, in his press con­fer­ence on July 6, hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in Cal­i­for­nia in­creased 50 per­cent statewide, over the 14- day pe­riod. The pos­i­tive-test rate went from 4.9 to 6.8 per­cent in the same 14- day pe­riod, and 24 lives were lost to COVID-19 over the Fourth of July hol­i­day week­end.

I am not a doc­tor of medicine, but I try to un­der­stand the is­sues and rely on solid sources for in­for­ma­tion. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion states that COVID-19 mainly spreads from per­son to per­son through res­pi­ra­tory droplets when an in­fected per­son coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice by shout­ing, chant­ing or singing. Those droplets can land in the mouths or noses of peo­ple who are nearby or pos­si­bly in­haled into the lungs.

Face cov­er­ings are most likely to re­duce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used and are es­pe­cially im­por­tant when one can­not main­tain so­cial dis­tanc­ing. The CDC rec­om­mends that peo­ple wear face cov­er­ings in pub­lic set­tings when around peo­ple out­side their own house­hold.

Not all the face- cov­er­ing or­ders are the same. Men­do­cino County’s or­der is 6 pages long but the gist of the re­quire­ment of the or­der is in para­graph 7 on the sec­ond page. It re­quires fa­cial cov­er­ings be worn at all times while in­side any in­door fa­cil­ity or any en­closed open space, be­sides your res­i­dence, and out­doors when un­able to main­tain a six-foot dis­tance from other per­sons.

The or­der also pro­vides for ex­cep­tions to the re­quire­ment, such as when a per­son has a health-re­lated rea­son not to wear a mask, chil­dren un­der 2 years old, or when in a restau­rant or bar with folks from the same house­hold, while eat­ing or drink­ing. Per­mis­si­ble sta­ble bub­bles are not re­quired to so­cial dis­tance when en­gag­ing in al­lowed ac­tiv­i­ties.

It’s th­ese ex­cep­tions that make it dif­fi­cult for law en­force­ment to is­sue ci­ta­tions for not wear­ing a fa­cial cov­er­ing. A per­son out­doors is only re­quired to wear a fa­cial cov­er­ing when they can­not so­cial dis­tance. Even when our streets or trails are busy, it is not too hard to main­tain a six-foot dis­tance from other peo­ple not in one’s house­hold. It is also al­most im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine who be­longs to which sta­ble house­hold. To­day’s house­holds are di­verse and do not need to fit into tra­di­tional roles.

An­other con­cern about cit­ing in­di­vid­u­als not wear­ing a mask is the cur­rent cli­mate sur­round­ing law en­force­ment and ag­gres­sive prac­tices and un­needed vi­o­lence. Our local po­lice of­fi­cers are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to avoid as­so­ci­a­tion with those few of­fi­cers from other agen­cies who have used their au­thor­ity in un­law­ful and hate­ful ways. They are all well aware of the cur­rent cli­mate and mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing they do de­fuses sit­u­a­tions and avoids es­ca­la­tion.

While face cov­er­ings should just be a sym­bol of re­duc­ing the spread of COVID-19, it isn’t al­ways and we have seen ex­am­ples all over the county oth­er­wise.

The City is im­ple­ment­ing new sig­nage, de­vel­op­ing pam­phlets and work­ing with our business com­mu­nity to en­cour­age our vis­i­tors and res­i­dents to com­ply not only with the County or­der but heed the rec­om­men­da­tion from the CDC which en­cour­ages ev­ery­one to wear face cov­er­ings when around peo­ple out­side their own house­hold.

I be­lieve — be­fore we en­force — we need to en­cour­age good be­hav­ior and ed­u­cate. I would like to ex­tend a heart­felt thanks to our com­mu­nity mem­bers who wear their face cov­er­ings ev­ery­day as they per­form their es­sen­tial work. I also want to thank our com­mu­nity mem­bers who dili­gently wear their face cov­er­ings and prac­tice so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

As the num­ber of con­firmed cases con­tin­ues to grow, wear­ing face cov­er­ings, so­cial dis­tanc­ing and good hy­giene are more im­por­tant than ever.

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