LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ten California counties were cleared to ease coronavirus restrictions Tuesday, including some in the Central Valley that saw major case spikes over the summer, but the state’s top health official warned that upcoming Halloween celebrations pose a risk for renewed spread.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state health secretary, said no counties moved backwards in California’s color-coded, four-tiered system for reopening, but Riverside was on the verge of reverting to the most restrictive purple tier. The county of about 2.5 million residents has asked for a review of its data and will stay in the red tier until the state makes a decision on its status later this week.
HOBOKEN, NJ — Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said on Friday that coronavirus cases are on the rise in the mile-square city, and he cautioned residents to avoid indoor parties and travel to places with spikes.
Bhalla updated the city’s coronavirus case numbers Friday, saying the city had confirmed 28 new cases in the previous five days, a larger increase than in months.
“The Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) has reported additional hospitalizations, as well as patients on ventilators,” Bhalla said.
He said that the Hoboken Health Department has reported the following new COVID-19 cases in Hoboken:
That meant that as of Friday, 833 residents have tested positive for coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Fatalities remain unchanged at 31 total, with no new resident deaths since May.
The age group with the highest rise in cases remains those residents in the 17-30 age group, he said.
(Also on Friday, a local charter school went all-remote after a student tested positive for the virus. Related story here).
Avoiding the shore counties, and indoor birthday parties
Bhalla said in his Friday update that there are surges in Monmouth and Ocean counties — popular shore destinations for North Jersey residents. He urged residents to avoid traveling there.
“The State of New Jersey has reported significant recent increases in positive COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and patients in intensive care as well,” he wrote. “On Thursday, the State saw the largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases (1,301) since May. The statewide positivity rate from Oct. 4 was 3.69 percent, while the statewide rate of transmission is currently 1.22. (anything above a rate of 1 means the virus is spreading). Gov. Murphy has reported a surge of cases in Ocean County and Monmouth County, and I urge residents to avoid traveling to cities in these two counties if at all possible.”
Bhalla also reminded people to avoid maskless indoor gatherings. He said he’s been concerned about house parties as well as birthday parties.
“As always, the best way to stay safe is to take the following precautions: wear a face mask when around others, social distance, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands,” he wrote. “And, as mentioned in the previous update, please continue to assume that anyone you come into contact with could have the virus, especially now that cases are rising in New Jersey.”
He noted, “Additionally, we’re also hearing reports of house parties that have occurred over the past several weeks, with the police having to be called in one instance, as well as residents attending house parties in other locations. I am urgently asking all residents, of all ages — please avoid indoor parties, which could easily turn into superspreader events with cases that are difficult to trace, like ones we have seen on the news.”
Hoboken coronavirus testing, dining, reopening info
To read a Patch report last week about reopenings and
Although a handful of counties advanced in the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan Tuesday, two moved backward — the first time since California launched its tiered system that parts of the state have regressed.
Following an increase in cases, Tehama County moved back to Tier 1, the most restrictive, and Shasta County moved back to Tier 2. The setbacks will affect business sectors that had been given the green light to reopen or expand capacity in those areas.
Shasta County, which averaged 173.7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days, and Tehama County, with 124.3 cases per 100,000 residents during the same period, are among the five counties in the state where the most new cases are concentrated, according to The Times’ tracker.
Among the counties that moved forward was Ventura, the fourth in Southern California to advance on the state’s blueprint for reopening. It joined Merced and Yuba counties in advancing from Tier 1, also known as the purple tier, with widespread risk of the virus, to Tier 2, or the red tier, with substantial risk of the virus.
Inyo County moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3, also known as the orange tier, with moderate risk of the virus. Humboldt, Plumas, Siskiyou and Trinity counties moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4, also known as the yellow tier, with minimal risk of the virus.
Ventura County officials were prepared for the move following a decrease in positivity rate and case count. The progressive step will allow the county to expand operations and capacity at business sectors, including restaurants and shopping centers, and to partially reopen other businesses, including movie theaters, for the first time.
If the county remains in the tier for two consecutive weeks, it will be allowed to open all schools. That is true for any county that moves to Tier 2.
Ventura County is currently reporting 5.5 infections per 100,000 residents and a seven-day average positivity rate of 3.0%.
Those metrics have also dipped statewide. The seven-day average for daily infections is 3,005, and the current 14-day positivity rate is 2.7%.
“Our cases have decreased from our peak over the summer, but they have been plateauing,” acting state health officer Dr. Erica Pan said Tuesday. The state’s goal is to continue to see a steady decrease in infections in order to ensure that the projected transmission rate does not rise.
Additionally, the state’s health equity metric went into effect Tuesday.
In order to ensure that communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — including Black and Latino residents, Pacific Islanders and low-income residents — get ample attention as each county progresses, the state will examine the positivity rate of a county’s lowest quartile and compare it to the countywide
Workers are using helicopters and trucks to distribute thousands of oral vaccines across a 17-county region of Alabama to help stop the spread of rabies.
The state health department says packets containing a vaccine meant to be found by raccoons will be distributed along roadsides in populated areas including metropolitan Birmingham. Trucks will be used for that work.
Vaccine packets will be dropped out of helicopters or low-flying airplanes over forests and other rural areas.
The packs consist of a plastic satchel that contains the rabies vaccine. The shell is coated with fishmeal or dog meal, and raccoons come into contact with the vaccine when they tear open the pack with their teeth.
The health department says the contents of the packet doesn’t pose a risk of rabies to other animals or human.
“Vaccination is very, very effective, with only rare cases of rabies occurring in vaccinated animals,” Dr. Dee W. Jones, the state veterinarian, said in a statement.
The work started Oct. 1. The program includes Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Jefferson, Marshall, Morgan, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega and Tuscaloosa counties.
The state says more than 7,000 animal bites and potential rabies exposures are investigated annually.