San Mateo County Reports 315 New Coronavirus Cases, No Deaths

Gideon Rubin

SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA — San Mateo County Health reported 315 additional coronavirus cases Thursday.

The latest report brings the countywide case count to 19,645.

The county reported no additional coronavirus-related fatalities Thursday, leaving its COVID-19 death toll at 183.

There were 112 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in San Mateo County as of Thursday, of which 34 were being treated in intensive care units.

Elsewhere around the Bay Area and beyond, San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said Thursday as the city's COVID-19 cases continue to soar, a new health order will require anyone coming into San Francisco from outside of the Bay Area to quarantine for 10 days.

The new health order also strongly discourages any non-essential travel within the Bay Area and Santa Cruz regions in order to further limit the spread of the virus.

The order goes into effect Friday and ends on Jan. 4.

Those exempt from the order include medical professionals, first responders, government officials and those involved in essential infrastructure work, among others.

Passengers coming into San Francisco International Airport and catching same-day connecting flights are also excluded from the new order, city health officials said.

According to Colfax, the latest health order is needed as the number of intensive care unit hospital beds throughout the entire Bay Area has fallen to less than 15 percent.

Additionally, he said the city continues to see an unprecedented rise in cases, averaging 242 new COVID-19 cases daily -- a 50 percent increase since the Thanksgiving holiday -- and has just 79 ICU beds left.

But, Colfax said, there's still a chance the city can pull through.

"While cases remain far too high, the rate of increase of this virus has slowed," he said. "This indicates that we still have time to turn this dire situation around and as a result save hundreds of lives."

Colfax is urging residents to avoid holiday travel during the coming weeks, as the city's current stay-home is order remains effective through Jan. 4, although it could be extended if the surge doesn't drop.

"An increase over this next holiday period could put us over the edge into a truly catastrophic situation. We cannot afford a further increase in cases. Especially an increase like we saw during Thanksgiving," he said.

"Please cancel those airline reservations, don't plan to gather and remember that people without symptoms can still spread the virus."

Two sub-zero freezers slated to store thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 have arrived in San Mateo County, county officials said Wednesday.

The freezers at San Mateo Medical Center will store allotments for the county's health department and for Seton Medical Center, and vaccines for other acute hospitals will be shipped directly to the respective hospitals.

"These freezers are a really big deal only when we look at the Pfizer vaccine because it needs to be stored at -70 degrees while the Moderna vaccine just needs to be freezing," Dr. Anand Chabra, county COVID-19 mass vaccination section chief and Family Health Services medical director, said.

"Because of its formulation, in order to be viable it needs to be stored this way and the other thing is that there are no preservatives in there."

County hospitals may start vaccinations as early as Thursday, as the county has already received its first allotment of 5,850 Pfizer vaccines on Tuesday.

By next week, the county is expecting and additional 5,850 Pfizer vaccines and 7300 Moderna vaccines pending federal approval.

"This first batch is purely for the acute hospital health care workers," County Family Services Director Lizelle Lirio de Luna said.

"Next week will be for other priority groups such as long-term care facilities, medical emergency responders, public health staff working as vaccinators.

"By the end of the month, the county expects to have a total of 24,000-30,000 vaccines of both Pfizer and Moderna.

The total December allotment would provide the first dose for about 24,000 of the county's 38,000 health care workers who comprise the first priority group -- not all health care workers in the county.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses for full efficacy. The second dose of Pfizer vaccine is required to be given after 21 days of initial dose and the Moderna vaccine is 28 days.

"The first-tier priority could include people who are doing direct clinical care, people who are in contact with those who are COVID-positive, janitors, people who are transporting patients," de Luna said.

Health care workers not included in the count include federally qualified health clinics, lab technicians, dentists, primary care providers, and specialty doctors among others.

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There have been 1,736,250 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 21,954 coronavirus-related deaths in California as of Thursday afternoon according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The United States had 17,163,944 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 310,095 coronavirus-related fatalities as of Thursday afternoon.

There have been 74,757,981 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,658,290 deaths reported globally as of Thursday afternoon.

— Bay City News contributed to this report

This article originally appeared on the San Mateo Patch