update

After going a full week without fatality related to COVID-19, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) reported three deaths Wednesday, matching the highest single-day death toll since the start of the pandemic.

The last time CCHS reported three deaths in a single day was April 16 amid the deadliest seven-day period that has occurred so far in Contra Costa County. From April 13 - 19, 11 of the county’s 36 fatalities occurred. Exactly one month later, there were no reported no deaths from May 13 - 19. No fatalities have since been reported since Wednesday.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients continues to fall. As of May 21, nine confirmed COVID-19 patients remain in county hospitals. This number has fallen by more than half from one week prior when 20 patients were hospitalized. The county peaked at 44 hospital patients on April 13.

As CCHS ramps up its testing efforts, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is beginning to rise more quickly than has been seen over the last few weeks. There are now 1,259 confirmed infections in the county, with 112 cases reported in the last five days.

In East County, Antioch reported 111 cases; Brentwood, 67; Oakley, 50; Discovery Bay, nine and Bethel Island, one.

A total of 27,874 tests have been completed in the county. While testing volumes are increasing, the current level of testing still falls well short of the goal of 200 tests for every 100,000 residents. For the last seven days, the county has averaged only 75 tests for every 100,000 residents. The number of daily COVID-19 tests is one of five indicators the county is tracking to determine when shelter-in-place restrictions can be loosened.

The CCHS website states, “The indicators are important measures of progress as we assess whether, and to what extent, we can move away from the existing shelter-in-place restrictions that have been required to slow the spread of the virus.”

Other indicators are: the total number of cases is flat or decreasing, and the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is flat or decreasing; sufficient hospital resources are available; sufficient contact tracing and investigation resources are available and all county hospitals have a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

A CCHS spokesperson said in an email to The Press this week, “Our indicator for PPE says ‘Every acute care hospital in the county has certified in writing to the health officer that it has access to a 30-day supply of PPE and can independently procure adequate PPE to meet its needs going forward.’ Thus far, no healthcare facility has sent us a written certification.”

The county’s current shelter-in-place order expires May 31. As counties across the state loosen restrictions, CCHS has not yet what the new order might include. However, CCHS did loosen operating restrictions on nonessential retailers and their suppliers this week.

County retailers may now reopen for curbside sales and other outdoor pickups, provided they implement a series of coronavirus-controlling measures. Retail goods manufacturers, as well as retail warehousing and logistical support operations, were also allowed to restart — with their own disease-controlling safeguards in place.

“We are counting on businesses to consistently follow social-distancing protocols and our public health guidance so they can operate safely and protect both their employees and their customers as these activities resume,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County public health officer.

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