The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County deaths outpace totals for the past 7 years

- By ALEX MACLEAN

Tuolumne County’s death toll from COVID-19 climbed to 138 on Wednesday as data released last week by the California Department of Public Health showed total deaths in the county through September for all causes were outpacing all of the previous seven years.

The latest county resident to die from COVID-19 was identified by the county Public Health Department as an unvaccinat­ed man in his 50s. His was the 17th death from the virus reported this month and 65th since the more contagious delta variant emerged in mid-july.

Exactly when and where the man died was not disclosed by the county Public Health Department in a daily update on COVID-19 statistics that also reported 30 new cases of the deadly virus were confirmed on Wednesday.

Nearly half of all 138 deaths in the county from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic have occurred since Aug. 1, despite the widespread availabili­ty of vaccines that have proven to be highly effective at preventing serious illness.

All eight people hospitaliz­ed for COVID-19 in the county on

Wednesday were said to be unvaccinat­ed.

People identified as unvaccinat­ed also represente­d 28 of the 30 new cases in the county on Wednesday, which brought the total number since the pandemic began to 7,720. That total included 1,621 state prison inmates at Sierra Conservati­on Center in Jamestown.

The new cases in the county on Wednesday included one girl and two boys younger than 12, three girls and two boys ages 12 to 17, two women and two men ages 18 to 29, a woman and a man in their 30s, two women and a man in their 40s, four men in their 50s, a woman and four men in their 60s, two women and a man in their 70s, and a woman in her 80s.

There were 132 active cases on Wednesday as the county’s two-week average daily rate of new infections per 100,000 residents increased slightly to 33 from 32.3 on Tuesday.

Calaveras County had 18 new cases on Wednesday and no additional deaths as the number of people hospitaliz­ed rose to 3 from one on Tuesday, though no informatio­n about their vaccinatio­n status, age or gender was provided.

The state Department of Public Health updated it’s California Vital Data, or CAL-VIDA, report for the total number of deaths through September in all of the state’s 58 counties, which showed Tuolumne County was on track to have the highest number in at least the past seven years.

Data on deaths only goes back to 2014 in the report and covers the total number reported in each county for any cause, not just for COVID-19, though the fact that 2020 had the highest number thus far suggests the virus has played a role.

There have been 606 confirmed deaths in Tuolumne County from January through September this year, compared to 546 over the same period this year. Every year prior to that had 514 or fewer deaths over that same timeframe.

The county had 763 total deaths in all of 2020, with the second deadliest year prior to that being 2018 when 686 county residents perished.

A Moderna COVID-19 clinic will be held by the Tuolumne County Public Health Department from 10 a.m. to noon and 12:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the First Presbyteri­an Church at 11155 Jackson St. in Columbia.

The clinic will offer the initial two-dose vaccine series to anyone 18 or older who hasn’t been vaccinated yet, as well as booster shots for those eligible who got the second dose of their initial vaccine series at least six months ago.

Everyone 65 and older or those 18 and older with underlying medical conditions or who work in a setting that puts them at a high risk of catching COVID-19 is eligible for a booster shot as long as they received their second dose at least six months earlier.

Walk-ins are welcome at the clinic on Saturday, but people are encouraged to schedule appointmen­ts by going to www.myturn. ca.gov. For more informatio­n, all the county Public Health Department at (209) 533-7440.

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