Solano County COVID Case Count Rises 15% In One Day; Health Officer Blames Protests, Social Gatherings

While much of the nine-county Bay Area has seen fairly steady and minimal growth in the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, Solano County just recorded its single biggest one-day jump in cases.

Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas
SFiST, by Jay Barmann, June 18, 2020

On Wednesday, Solano County added 105 new cases to its tally, a rise of 15 percent for a cumulative total of 792. The county’s Daily Republic newspaper spoke to Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas explains that the jump reflects a backlog of suspected cases under investigation which he decided to add to the total yesterday. And he suggests that while there is “no evidence” to suggest that the reopening of restaurants and other businesses is to blame for the uptick, he betrays a bit of trepidation about how the public is handling the reopening in the county.

“When I drive around town, I get the sense that it is pre-COVID,” he tells the paper, noting that he sees a lot of social gatherings happening without precautions.

Matyas blames those gatherings along with recent protest marches and a group of cases that originated in vineyards across the county line in Napa for the uptick in confirmed cases.

46 of the new cases were found in Fairfield — where, according to Matyas, many of the infected vineyard workers live — and 34 cases were found in Vallejo, where a week of sometimes violent protests rocked the city two weeks ago. Overall, Vallejo has been home to nearly half of all the county’s confirmed cases to date — 371 in total.

Matyas was one of the early naysayers about region-wide lockdowns that occurred in March, and was notably the last of the nine Bay Area health officers to institute strict shelter-in-place orders. When he did, he called it a “stay-at-home” order, and he still expressed skepticism that workplaces with cubicles were at all dangerous for the spread of the coronavirus.

Here he is on March 17:

Solano County opened its restaurants for indoor dining back on May 21, two months ahead of the current date set for indoor dining in San Francisco, which is July 13.

The total number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Solano County has remained low — it went down to 10 last week from 14, and has remained there since — with 97 people hospitalized since the pandemic began. The county has also seen one of the lowest number of deaths in the Bay Area, with 23, though Napa and Sonoma Counties are tied for the lowest, with four apiece.