[BenIndy Editor: the number of deaths listed by age in this article adds up to 6 rather than 7 deaths. In my report last night, using the County’s “Deaths by Age Groups” chart, I identified 2 age 50-64 and 5 age 65+]
FAIRFIELD — Seven more Solano County residents have died due in part to Covid-19, taking the pandemic total to 312, while the case numbers climbed past 45,000, the county Public Health Division reported Wednesday.
All seven deaths are the result of this latest surge that started shortly after July 4, taking that total to 55, of which 42 individuals were unvaccinated, the county reported.
Three of the latest seven victims were vaccinated, including a man over 65 who lived in a long-term care facility. The other six all lived at home. There were three women and one man older than 65, and one man and one woman who were between 50 and 65. [Error here – see correction above…]
The Chronicle has published two excellent reviews this week contrasting Solano County with our Bay Area neighbors. The first below profiles Solano with stats and detailed interviews with Solano leaders and residents.
In Solano County, the Bay Area’s COVID outlier, masks are anything but universal
SF Chronicle, by Kellie Hwang, Danielle Echeverria, Sep. 19, 2021
Paulie Spacco believes anyone infected with the coronavirus should just “let the body do its thing” and build antibodies, even though an 18-month pandemic and the deaths of 1 in 500 Americans point to the dangers of following such a strategy.
Spacco, a Vacaville resident and small-business owner in his 60s, and his friend Gregorio Serrao, in his 70s, both say they have no intention of getting vaccinated and oppose restricting people’s activities to try to control the spread of COVID-19. Over sandwiches recently at La Borgata Italian Deli on Vacaville’s Main Street, the two dismissed evidence proving that masks work to help block transmission of virus-laden droplets.
By Roger Straw, September 21, 2021
Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health Officer
Fairfield Daily Republic reporter Todd Hansen receives regular updates directly from Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health Officer. The information shared goes well beyond what is reported on the County’s COVID dashboard.
In yesterday’s Daily Republic report, Matyas offered some details on the 6 newest COVID deaths and indicated that his count of the death toll from our recent surge is 31.
There were three women, all 70 or older, and three men, two 65 or older and one between 50 and 65. All lived at home and all had significant underlying health issues, Matyas said.
Two were vaccinated, taking that number during the surge to eight, Matyas reported.
Four of the six individuals were infected by family members; two apparently contracted the virus at parties, Matyas said.
So add 2 new deaths of vaccinated persons to a previous Matyas report of 6 who were vaccinated and died during this surge. It strikes me as somewhat alarming that over a quarter (8) of the 31 recent surge deaths were vaccinated individuals.
Today’s 2 new vaccinated deaths reportedly had “significant underlying health issues.” We are left to wonder about the previous 6 vaccinated deaths, as no further information was offered to indicate whether they had underlying health issues.
We are also left to wonder what were these underlying health issues, and how severe were they? How sick do you have to be for COVID to overcome your vaccine protection and kill you?
Finally, in his comments, I hear Dr. Matyas continuing to justify his theory that community transmission is not public transmission. He says the 4 of the deaths were caused via infections “by family members.” Interesting that Dr. Matyas doesn’t go on to describe where and how the family members caught the virus before bringing it home to these poor folks. They had to get it somewhere. Was there contact tracing? Does Matyas know how the infectors were infected?
And Matyas adds, “two apparently contracted the virus at parties.” Well, same question: where did the party-goers catch the virus before bringing it to the party? Surely not in any indoors commercial spaces, right? Surely not at work, where our county doesn’t require masks or vaccinations, right? Commerce first, public health and safety not so much.
Sorry for the snippy rhetorical questions. We know Bela’s oft-repeated unscientific answers. Aaargh…
[BenIndy Editor: Note that the Board never even addressed Supervisor Brown’s request for a countywide indoors mask mandate like we established here in Benicia and Vallejo. Benicia and Vallejo are clearly on our own here in Solano County. Concerned up-county residents should consider shopping and doing business down here in Benicia/Vallejo. And Solano employees might want to start looking for a new job! – R.S.]
Divided board won’t mandate vaccines for Solano employees
Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan speaks while debating mandated vaccines and masks for Solano County employees during a Board of Supervisors meeting at the Government Center in Fairfield, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)
County workers must adhere to mask policies in communities where they work
FAIRFIELD — Solano County employees will not be required to get Covid-19 vaccinations, but will have to honor mask requirements in city jurisdictions that have them.
Benicia and Vallejo temporarily require everyone – vaccinated or not – to wear a mask in indoor public places. The state has the same mandate for individuals who are not vaccinated.
Masks are required in all medical facilities, and in schools.
Benicia Mayor Steve Young
Benicia Mayor Steve Young was one of 17 individuals who called into the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. The county also received more than 100 written correspondences, two-thirds of which opposed the policies. The callers were slightly weighted in the other direction.
Young urged the board to enact its own mask mandate, though that issue was never formally up for consideration.
A county mask mandate for public indoor places was expected to be one of two issues considered by the board, but Supervisor Erin Hannigan, who had raised the mask requirement and the county vaccination mandate, backed off the full mask mandate in favor of requiring that county employees adhere to the rules of other jurisdictions.
The new mandate mostly affects county employees who work at county buildings in Vallejo. The board supported the policy on a 4-1 vote with board Chairman John Vasquez dissenting without comment.
The supervisors voted 2-3, with Vasquez, Supervisor Jim Spering and Supervisor Mitch Mashburn in the majority, to defeat Hannigan’s motion to mandate vaccinations for county employees and contractors. Supervisor Monica Brown supported the action.
“The only way we are going to get out of this pandemic is everyone get vaccinated,” Hannigan said.
Those who argued against the vaccines for county employees, also largely argued against the mask requirement, framing the issues as ones of personal freedoms and choice.
Some took great exception to anyone telling them what they must inject into their bodies. Others were less forceful, and even noted they, too, had been vaccinated, but were in no position to tell others what to do, and strongly believe government should stay out of personal medical decisions.
Corianne Tunstall comments as the Solano County Board of Supervisors debate mandated vaccines and masks for Solano County employees during a Board of Supervisors meeting at the Government Center in Fairfield, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)
But Corianne Tunstall, a local hairdresser, said those “personal decisions” do not only affect those individuals, as she is frequently exposed to clients who have not been vaccinated, and who refuse to wear masks even though state law requires them to do so.
She told the board she could not afford to get sick and miss work, and felt it was wrong that others could choose to expose her and she could, in turn, expose her family.
Dr. Seth Kaufman is the chief medical officer for NorthBay Healthcare. (Courtesy photo)
Others who supported the policies included Dr. Seth Kaufman, chief medical officer at NorthBay Healthcare. He called the vaccines and masks critical pieces in the fight against Covid-19.
“We are off the charts on the number of patients we are seeing,” Kaufman said. “Our hospitals are full; our clinics are overflowing with Covid patients.”
The public discussion followed a Covid-19 status update by Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer.
Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County public health officer
He told the board that the county is emerging from the latest Covid surge that started shortly after July 4, and that includes lower number of individuals being hospitalized.
Matyas reiterated his position that a mask policy will be ineffective because the data show transmission is not taking place in public settings, but rather at private social gatherings and at home. He noted that the vast majority of counties that have mask mandates are not seeing their disease rates fall like they should if the policy worked.
However, he also reiterated his position that the best way to defeat Covid-19 is to get vaccinated.
About 64% of the residents 12 or older have been fully vaccinated, while 76% have received at least one shot. That leaves about 135,000 residents who are eligible for vaccines who have not been innoculated, Matyas said.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Friday that indicate people who are unvaccinated who contract Covid-19 are 11 times more likely to die than are those who are vaccinated.