Jessica Cejnar / Friday, May 22 @ 5:22 p.m.

Aggressive Contact Tracing Explains Another Burst in Positive COVID-19 Cases, Del Norte OES Manager Says

Aggressive contact tracing is responsible for another burst in positive COVID-19 cases, Del Norte County Emergency Services Manager Kymmie Scott said Friday.

The 15 confirmed cases the Public Health Branch identified Thursday morning grew to 20 by the end of the day. No one is hospitalized, Scott told the Wild Rivers Outpost. Most are asymptomatic individuals discovered through contact tracing, she said.

“We do have them across multiple segments of the community,” Scott told the Outpost. “We have positive cases with individuals in health care, farm workers, religious (environments) and at the prison.”

Scott declined to give further details about specific cases, but said they were connected.

“It started from a couple of individuals and through contact tracing and testing, we find additional positives that way,” she said. “They are continuing to do that, a lot of that, right now.”

As they begin to relax safety measures and allow the community to resume a sense of normalcy, Scott said the Del Norte Office of Emergency Services and the Public Health Branch is working on a visual resource for mapping disease activity in the county.

This dashboard is expected to go live Tuesday or Wednesday and will include charts, graphs and maps. It will have information on the number of tests administered, positives, negatives, those who have recovered and the number of deaths in the community, Scott said.

There will also be information on the number of hospitalizations, she said, and a breakdown of those who are infected by age and gender.

“Then we’re going to do heat maps for location,” Scott said. “Obviously we can’t give away people’s addresses, but we’ll break the county into segments and then people can see where the activity is happening.”

The dashboard will also include information on how much personal protective equipment has been distributed to healthcare and first responders and what resources are available for businesses and organizations. A list of businesses cleared to open will also be included, Scott said.

After the California Department of Public Health approved a variance for Del Norte County last week, a handful of businesses, including restaurants and retail, were allowed to reopen on Friday. However, they had to submit safety plans to the Del Norte Public Health Branch for approval.

According to Scott, businesses that aren’t approved to reopen can face fines of up to $1,000 a day if they don’t comply with public health orders. But, she said, emergency officials will focus on education and compliance before enforcement.

“We know rules are changing quickly and it’s hard for folks to keep up,” she said. “I’m not trying to come out with a strong arm, but we do need to get folks into compliance because it does have to do with public health and safety.”

In addition to releasing guidelines on reopening for local businesses, Public Health Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt issued an order requiring people to have masks on their person while in public and to wear them when they enter a business.

Scott said the goal with increasing safety measures is to ensure the local health care system isn’t overwhelmed.

“We just want to try to keep the disease subdued in the community and masking is one way that happens,” she said. “Contact tracing is another way that happens — find out where this is and get those people tested and isolated.”


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