Tag Archives: Solano County Health Department

Slanted coverage of Solano’s poor response to recent COVID surge

[Editor: The Fairfield Daily Republic is the only news agency in Solano County that covers meetings of the Solano County Board of Supervisors.  Their coverage is decidedly conservative, but regularly contains valuable news about Solano’s response (and lack of adequate response) to the COVID-19 crisis.  In today’s story, I will highlight several highly concerning quotes, followed by my critical observations below, after the Daily Republic article.  – R.S.]

Solano close to ‘purple,’ again; Hannigan calls for public campaign

Fairfield Daily Republic, By Todd R. Hansen, November 11, 2020
Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health Officer

FAIRFIELD — Dr. Bela Matyas, the Solano County health officer, told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the state’s testing adjustments are not likely to save the county from regressing into the state’s most-restrictive purple tier if the case rate is not lowered.

“The county’s current experience with Covid-19 has not been good,” said Matyas, noting a case rate nearly as high as 80 per day over the weekend.

Add that to the 136 cases reported Friday, that four-day average was 93.2 cases – more than three times higher than the 30.7-case average the county needs to be at or below to stay in the red tier.

There were 64 new cases reported in Tuesday’s Public Health pdate, which would put the five-day average at nearly 87.4.

“Our current case rate is nearly as high as our peak (during the novel coronavirus pandemic),” Matyas said.

The update to the board included the usual discussion of the cause of the case increases, which in Solano County comes back to the usual response: social gatherings of friends and family.

Matyas noted that Public Health hears people say they are concerned about meeting strangers in public so they take precautions, but they do not take the same precautions around family and friends.

 He also said that if the county does not want its businesses harmed, it needs to convince the governor’s office that the care rate has nothing to do with businesses. 

“I think we need a mask and social distancing campaign,” Supervisor Erin Hannigan said.

She proposed a media campaign using social media, TV, radio, school education and even the back of buses to get the message out to wear face coverings and keep a safe distance no matter what the setting: work, home or in the community.

 Supervisor Jim Spering was not convinced the expense would necessarily have the desired results, but he is increasingly frustrated that it will be businesses that will pay the price for the choices being made by county residents. “They are just ruining more lives, more businesses ; it’s unconscionable,” Spering said.

However, the board heard from several members of the public about their beliefs that face coverings do not work, and that the county should stop promoting it.

In addition to the state guidelines, face coverings are part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols and fully endorsed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Hannigan’s campaign idea, because it would educate children who would presumably take the lessons home, was also likened to a Nazi Germany propaganda approach.

The board also was urged, again, to take down from its website the phone number locals can use to report Covid-19 protocol violations by businesses.

Terry Schmidtbauer, the acting director of the Department of Resource Management, reported that since August, the county has received 267 complaints, which resulted in 203 site visits. Only seven of those have required a third inspection, which triggers the county referring the matter to law enforcement or state agencies.

In general, he said, the businesses are following the regulations.

 Matyas said the Halloween numbers are starting to show up in the Public Health data as well, noting that the new surge is mostly younger residents. That means the hospitalization numbers are not spiking like in past surges , but the disease has made its way into 15 care facilities, and some of those who are transmitting the disease, Matyas said, are medical staff who have participated in social gatherings but without following safety protocols.

It is in those facilities where the fatalities begin to rise. The past three deaths in the county were in a memory care facility in Vacaville, bringing the total to 79.

The Public Health Division reported that with the 61 news cases, the countywide total is 8,430.

 Matyas said he fully expects the state to put the county on notice, and while Solano will appeal the state’s position next week to put off a final state decision, in two more weeks the county could be going back to “purple.” 

The other key piece to the state’s decision is the seven-day testing rate, which was reported Tuesday at 10.1% – well above the purple tier threshold of 8%.

California’s color-coded monitoring system designates the purple tier for counties where transmission of the novel coronavirus is considered to be widespread. Shutdown orders for counties in the purple tier are the most severe. The red tier is for counties with substantial spread of the virus. The orange tier designates moderate virus transmission, while the yellow tier is reserved for counties where the spread of the virus is deemed to be minimal.

Restrictions to slow the spread of the virus are eased as counties move from purple to red, red to orange and orange to yellow.

 Hospitalizations across Solano County were at 31 Tuesday, the same as Monday ; and the number of active cases continues to rise, up from 577 to 580.  [continued…]


Quote from the Daily Republic:
“[Matyas] also said that if the county does not want its businesses harmed, it needs to convince the governor’s office that the care rate has nothing to do with businesses.”
Commentary:  This sentence perfectly captures the business-centric approach expressed time and again by our Public Health Officer and by one or more of his employers who sit on our Solano County Board of Supervisors.  I wish our businesses well, but it is not at all clear to me that “the case rate has nothing to do with businesses.”  Solano’s contact tracing may show more transmission due to private social gatherings, but there is no doubt in my mind that our businesses remain a threat to viral exposure as well.  Too often, our County leadership fails to properly call out businesses to enforce masking or face consequences.  And our County leadership completely fails to acknowledge the value of returning to business and community shutdowns when the numbers indicate a return to the purple tier.

Quote from the Daily Republic:
“Supervisor Jim Spering was not convinced the expense would necessarily have the desired results, but he is increasingly frustrated that it will be businesses that will pay the price for the choices being made by county residents.”
Commentary:  Supervisor Spering has consistently over the years promoted business interests at the expense of human welfare on issues like air quality and regulation of Bay Area refineries.  “Businesses will pay the price”?!  While people are sick and dying?  This sounds like the voice of a die-hard (as it were) right-wing doubter, not unlike the anti-government protesters spreading misinformation and casting nasty names at Board meetings.

Quote from the Daily Republic:
“Matyas said the Halloween numbers are starting to show up in the Public Health data as well, noting that the new surge is mostly younger residents. That means the hospitalization numbers are not spiking like in past surges…Hospitalizations across Solano County were at 31 Tuesday, the same as Monday…”
Commentary:  Well, we have learned directly from Dr. Matyas (in an email to me on November 7) that his office goes back periodically and adds large numbers of hospitalizations after the fact.  This practice increased the total hospitalizations by 106 in a single day on October 29, a single-day increase of 25%.  How can he with a straight face report that “hospitalization numbers are not spiking like in past surges,” when he knows from experience that he will likely need to go back and add hospitalizations at a later date?

Quote from the Daily Republic:
“Matyas said he fully expects the state to put the county on notice, and while Solano will appeal the state’s position next week to put off a final state decision, in two more weeks the county could be going back to ‘purple.'”
Commentary:  Solano’s kneejerk stance is to appeal.  At every step, Solano has resisted the direction of our State health officials.  Matyas has been featured on several Bay Area news media expressing disapproval of our State’s best guidance.  He seems to fear “going back to ‘purple'” more than overseeing a surge in illness and death that is spreading throughout the nation.

 

Solano County press release: Loosening some COVID restrictions, “…best defense is to continue with the safety protocols”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 22, 2020

  • News Contacts:
    Matthew A. Davis, Sr. Management Analyst and Public Communications Officer (707) 784-6111 and MADavis@SolanoCounty.com (AND)
  • Jayleen Richards, Public Health Administrator, Health and Social Services Department (707) 784-8616 and JMRichards@SolanoCounty.com

State moves Solano County into red tier (Tier 2) on COVID-19 framework; allows businesses to reopen some additional indoor activities with modifications

SOLANO COUNTY – The California Department of Public Health announced today that Solano County has been moved into the red tier (Tier 2) on the state’s COVID-19 response framework, allowing for more local businesses and activities to resume some additional indoor activities, with modifications.

“Solano County has made progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” says Bela T. Matyas, M.D., M.P.H., Solano County Health Officer. “As more businesses reopen, we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 infection, and our best defense is to continue with the safety protocols—wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands.”

Before the move today, the State had placed Solano County in the most restrictive tier; Tier 1, the purple tier, where COVID-19 infection rates are considered “widespread,” and many indoor businesses operations remained closed or with limited capacity. The transition into Tier 2, the red tier, allows for more business with indoor operations to increase capacity. Businesses need to continue to adhere to the State’s Industry Guidance for social distancing best practices to help protect employees, customers and the community to continue to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 infection.

MOVING INTO TIER 2 (RED) ALLOWS:
  • Restaurants indoor dining (max 25% capacity of facility or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • All retail indoors (max 50% capacity of facility)
  • Shopping centers, swap meets indoors (max 50% capacity of facility, closed common areas)
  • Personal care services – hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums (max 25% capacity of facility)
  • Places of worship (max 25% capacity of facility or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Movie theaters indoors (max 25% capacity of facility or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10% capacity of facility)
BUSINESSES MUST STILL IMPLEMENT STATE-MANDATED INDUSTRY GUIDANCE:

Prior to opening under Tier 2, all businesses must review the Solano County Health Order, complete a State COVID-19 general checklist and ensure a written plan is on file and available for public review. Information and resources on Guidance for Industries is available on the Solano County website at www.SolanoCounty.com/COVID19.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS

If Solano County continues to make progress in preventing COVID-19 transmission, additional business sectors and indoor activities can progressively begin to open, with modifications, within the next three weeks, per the State’s Industry Guidelines. If the County’s COVID-19 metrics worsen, the County would be directed to revert to a more restrictive tier as soon as two weeks from today. Per state regulations, K-12 schools can reopen to classroom-based learning with COVID-19 modifications after two weeks of the County in Tier 2, providing there is no new surge in COVID-19 infections.

FREE COVID-19 TESTING FOR ANYONE IN SOLANO COUNTY

As more businesses begin to reopen, remember that you can be tested for COVID-19 for free, regardless of symptoms. Same-day appointments are available. Sign up at www.Lhi.Care/CovidTesting and/or by calling (888) 634-1123.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To find the status of activities in the County, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.
For more information about COVID-19 in Solano County, visit www.SolanoCounty.com/COVID19 or call the Coronavirus Warmline at (707) 784-8988, email COVID19@SolanoCounty.com and on Public Health’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/SolanoCountyPH (@SolanoCountyPH).

SOLANO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH

675 Texas St., Suite 6500, Fairfield, CA 94533
fax (707) 784-7975   *   www.solanocounty.com

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At least 18 infected at nursing facility in Vallejo

Health care workers are potentially in danger as well

Vallejo Times-Herald, By John Glidden, April 29, 2020
A healthcare worker takes a moment to get some fresh air at the Windsor Vallejo Care Center where at least 18residents have tested positive for COVID-19. CHRIS RILEY — TIMES-HERALD

Eighteen residents at the Windsor Vallejo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the California Department of Health.

The skilled nursing facility also reported that health care workers at the facility have been infected as well.

Vallejo spokeswoman Christina Lee said on Tuesday that the Solano County Public Health Department and the county’s epidemiology team are overseeing operations at the facility after being notified of the infections last Friday.

“At that time, the confirmed number of cases was 12 residents with positive tests and four staff members with positive tests,” Lee wrote. “It’s not known how the virus reached this facility.”

That number increased to 18 residents infected on Monday in what officials are calling a cluster outbreak.

Solano County Public Health Administrator Jayleen Richards said Tuesday that the county is taking the cluster outbreak very seriously.

“We’ve been testing the staff and residents there,” she said. “We will be checking in with the facility each day.”

Richards said this is the county’s first cluster outbreak of COVID- 19.

Josh Sable, general counsel for Windsor Healthcare, told the Times-Herald Tuesday that there have been no deaths associated with the cluster outbreak at the care facility.

Sable didn’t respond to requests from this newspaper to provide the number of total infected residents and health care workers at the Vallejo facility.

“Windsor Vallejo Care Center has experienced a slight increase in the number of residents diagnosed with COVID-19, but a decrease in the number of infected employees,” he wrote in a prepared statement to this newspaper. “Rest assured, since the onset of this pandemic, Windsor’s clinical team has been collaborating closely with local, state and federal authorities, as well as the facility’s medical director. Nothing is more important to us than providing a safe environment for our residents and team members.”

Lee said the facility has created an isolation wing for residents who have been confirmed positive.

“They are placed in a specific wing of the facility to receive care from nurses/staff that do not provide care to patients in the other wings of the facility to help slow the spread,” she explained.

Sable said employees are screened at the start of each shift for symptoms of COVID-19, “including daily temperature checks and completion of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-compliant screening questionnaire. Employees who show signs of illness are asked to leave immediately and isolate at home.”

He also stated that visits to the facility have been restricted, while staff have increased sanitation “of frequently-touched surfaces.”

“We have ample supplies of personal protective equipment,” Sable said.

According to the state, eight other Solano County care facilities have reported no COVID-19 infections of residents or staff members.

Contact reporter John Glidden at 707-553-6832.