Jessica Cejnar / Monday, July 27 @ 4:48 p.m.

No Prison-Related COVID-19 Cases Reported Over Weekend; Staff, Inmate Testing Occurring This Week

Another positive COVID-19 case was identified in Del Norte County over the weekend, though it wasn’t connected with last week’s outbreak at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Prison officials have begun re-testing staff and are currently testing inmates, Del Norte Emergency Services Manager Kymmie Scott told the Wild Rivers Outpost. No new cases connected with the prison were identified over the weekend, Scott said Monday.

The patient connected with the new case reported in Del Norte County over the weekend may be past his or her quarantine period due to a delay in test results coming in, Scott said. But, she said, the turnaround time for COVID-19 test results may be getting better.

“I tested last Monday, and I know of at least two other people who tested last Monday, who received results on Friday,” Scott said. “Hopefully that continues.”

According to Del Norte Public Information Officer, Dr. Warren Rehwaldt, the newly-identified C0VID-19 case was supposed to be quarantining already. However, if the positive test is connected with a "primary case" and public health officials don't learn about it until the person has recovered, the disease can spread, Rehwaldt told the Outpost.

On Wednesday, Fifteen positive COVID-19 cases were connected to the prison. Eleven of the patients were Del Norte County residents — bringing the county’s overall total to 17 on Wednesday — while four were from Curry County.

On Thursday, five more cases in Del Norte were connected with the outbreak at the prison, bringing the county’s total to 22. On Friday, though prison staff reported three more cases to the Del Norte Public Health Branch, several had completed their self-isolation and were considered recovered, according to the county’s COVID-19 Information Hub.

As of Thursday, a total of seven Pelican Bay employees have active COVID-19 cases, according to the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections’ COVID-19 Employee Status web page. There are a total of 899 active cases among CDCR staff statewide.

No positive cases have been reported among Pelican Bay inmates, according to CDCR’s Population COVID-19 tracker. A total of 1,801 in-custody inmates have active COVID-19 cases statewide; 47 have died, according to CDCR.

Many of the cases connected with Pelican Bay State Prison staff were asymptomatic, according to a Del Norte Public Health Branch news release.

On Monday, Scott said a misconception some people have, that asymptomatic people aren’t contagious, is false. She also noted that since the lengthy lag time between a person being tested and informed whether or not they’re positive is often after they’re considered to be recovered, contact tracing becomes challenging.

“People could be moving about when they otherwise may have been under quarantine orders,” she said. “Also, the further out you get, the less likely you are to remember everywhere you’ve been and everyone you’ve had contact with.”

Scott said she’s been keeping a COVID journal.

“I encourage other people to keep a COVID journal,” she said. “I write down where I’ve gone during the day and anybody I might have had a close contact with.”

Close contact is being within six feet of someone for more than 10 minutes, Scott said.

Meanwhile, those wanting to keep up to date about COVID-19 within the county, including hearing more about what goes on behind the scenes, should tune in to 94.3 KCRE FM or 97.9 KPOD at 8 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Bill Steven, lead public information officer for the Del Norte Office of Emergency Services, will discuss the different things the Emergency Operations Center is focusing on, Scott said. On Thursdays, Steven will have Public Information Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt join him to discuss the “medical side of things,” Scott said.


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