COVID-19

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Del Norte County’s COVID-19 numbers are slowly inching up while health officials announce new additions to the county’s vaccine distribution efforts.

“Our case numbers are kind of holding steady, kind of creeping up,” County Health Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt told the county’s board of supervisors Tuesday. “This last week, I think we saw a little bit of decline over the prior week, but not in a good place. Not where we’d like it to be.”

As of Monday’s data, Del Norte County was reporting 68 cases of the virus in the last 14 days. That put Monday’s total “active” cases at 50 — the highest that figure has been since mid-January.

The county also reported two days of two-digit counts of new cases, the first since late February.

“I think we’ll probably be holding at Red Tier, but we’re getting close to the point where we could get bumped back down (to Purple Tier), and I would hate to see that happen as I’m sure everyone else would,” Rehwaldt said.

An increase in restrictions at the Purple Tier would limit restaurants to outdoor-only operations and hamper other businesses.

To get bumped to the Purple Tier, Del Norte County would need to report more than 35 cases a week, or a test positivity rate above 8%, for two consecutive weeks.

But in good news, Rehwaldt told supervisors Tuesday the county has additional vaccination options. Safeway is now receiving a small supply of doses of the Moderna vaccine from the county, Rehwaldt said, and the Sutter Coast Community Clinic is also receiving some vaccine supplies from the county.

“We decided to go ahead and provide some surplus vaccine that we had to get another site opened up. That is open for (Sutter) patients, also open for the public,” Rehwaldt said.

Rehwaldt said the county hopes to expand to more primary care providers for vaccine distribution, as those offices tend to be the most familiar with their own patients and their priority for vaccination.

Anyone interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine can call 707-464-0861 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to get more information or to set up an appointment. Most people with qualifying health conditions are currently eligible to receive a vaccine free of charge.

Rehwaldt said the county’s administered around 7,000 doses of the vaccine. Around 2,000 doses have come through Rite-Aid’s distribution program, he said.

“That’s all good news for us. That’s a huge boon to have that kind of volume of vaccination going on,” Rehwaldt said of Rite-Aid’s vaccinations.

Appointments at Rite-Aid can be made online at www.riteaid.com/covid-vaccine-apt.

What’s more, Del Norte County will soon be using the state’s MyTurn system to manage its vaccination effort after supervisors approved an agreement with the state Tuesday. The system registers patients for appointments and inputs vaccination data into the state’s database.

The county’s transition to the new system could have initial challenges, but Rehwaldt said it’ll be important to have a robust sign-up system as the county expands its vaccination eligibility.

“In the end I think it’s going to help. It’s going to be kind of an interesting transition over the next couple weeks, but at some point, when vaccine is generally available for everybody, and we get into the next numbered tiers, then we really want to have something like this in place to make it easy to sign up,” Rehwaldt said.

They system will be user-driven, meaning those interested in getting vaccines will sign up themselves. That means health officials won’t have to call around to certain populations like seniors and teachers to try to get them registered.

“That’s a lot of time-consuming work, and MyTurn is going to take that away,” Rehwaldt said.

The system — which can’t yet make appointments in Del Norte County, but can sign individuals up for vaccination updates — is available online at myturn.ca.gov/.

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