Santa Cruz County to issue citations for health order violations Keep up to date on local COVID-19 news

Editor’s note: The following is a collection of breaking news updates, helpful informational sites and links to appropriate local institutions during the coronavirus pandemic. Send announcements to admin@voicesofmontereybayc.org.

Santa Cruz County to issue citations for health order violations
Aug. 4 — Santa Cruz County just cracked down on your uncovered mug.

The Board of Supervisors today approved an urgency ordinance that would allow law enforcement to cite people who go out in public without face coverings in violation of health orders due to COVID-19. The citations aren’t as harsh as being charged with misdemeanor violations, which could have carried a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. The citations will result in fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for a third.

“The ordinance cover all aspects of state and local public health orders, including the local order to wear face coverings,” said Jason Hoppin, a county spokesman, in a written statement.

The Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance unanimously.

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COVID-19 death toll continues to rise, with 4 more deaths in Monterey County
Aug. 4 — Monterey County health authorities this morning confirmed four more deaths of patients in the county they attribute to COVID-19.

The death toll in Monterey County is now 34. Twelve people have reportedly died as a result of complications related to coronavirus during the past 12 days, according to the county’s reports.

Also, with seven new hospitalizations reported in the daily coronavirus update, 302 people have been hospitalized in the four hospitals serving the county since January.

The demographic report issued by the county indicates that a vast majority of the confirmed cases recorded in Monterey County are among residents under the age of 55, while more than three-quarters of the deaths reported in the county are among residents aged 55 or older.

The 34 deaths are among the approximately 9,500 people who have died in California as a result of COVID-19. Nearly half of the confirmed deaths in the state have been recorded in Los Angeles County.

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Positive coronavirus test percentages continue to rise in Monterey County
Aug. 3 — The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in Monterey County continues to rise, even as the percentage appears to be dropping throughout the state.

According to figures released this morning by the county Health Department, more than 10 percent of all the people tested for the virus have shown positive results. With 102 new confirmed cases reported this morning, 4,924 county residents have tested positive. Of those, 295 have required hospitalization and 30 people have died as a result of complications attributed to COVID-19.

In the state of California, 6.4 percent of the tests administered came back with positive results, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Santa Cruz County positive-result percentage is about 4.1 percent, with 1,151 cases, 89 hospitalizations and four deaths.

More than 50 percent of all the cases in Monterey County continue to come out of two densely populated ZIP codes covering East Salinas, while almost 73 percent of the positive cases have been found among residents who identify as Latino or Hispanics.

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Update: Monterey County reports four new COVID-19 deaths
Aug. 1 — Public health authorities in Monterey County reported four more deaths related to complications related to COVID-19 this morning, while 10 new patients have been hospitalized.

It was the largest one-day death toll in the county since the county Health Department started keeping track in January.  The victims reported today all appear to be over the age of 55 and Latinos, according to the county’s daily update.

That update, posted this morning, also reports 155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising the cumulative total in the county to 4,697, with 30 deaths and 279 hospitalizations. Among the totals, 83 percent of the cases live in the Salinas Valley and 73 percent identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic.

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital currently reports it is treating 19 patients with the virus, while Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula is treating 11. Reports from Natividad Medical Center in Salinas and Mee Memorial Hospital in King City are not available this morning.

Santa Cruz County has reported a total of four deaths, and 1,109 confirmed cases. California has confirmed more than 501,000 cases, with 9,233 fatalities attributed to COVID-19.

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Monterey County hospital officials: Don’t get tested unless you’re symptomatic or work in healthcare
July 28 — Local hospital administrators are urging residents not to get tested for COVID-19 unless they provide essential medical services or unless they are obviously symptomatic.

With backlogs in commercial laboratories extending up to a week, Natividad Medical Center CEO Gary Gray said health officials are now asking people with no symptoms to wait. That message is different than it was weeks ago, when officials were asking everyone to get tested. But Gray said today that the additional lag time is not giving people or health officials an accurate gauge about their situation, since a negative (or positive) test result only reflects a person’s health at the time the test was administered. That “snapshot” is not helpful if results are a week late.

“If you have to wait a week to get results, you really lose the ability to intervene and have a widespread public health impact,” said Gray.

The top executives from the four hospitals in the county gathered this morning for a press conference to ask residents to comply with the basic safety protocols — wear your facial coverings, wash your hands and keep your distance.

Their message came on a day when the county Health Department reported  two more deaths as a  result of complications from the virus, raising the cumulative total to 26 since officials started keeping track. Also, eight more people have been hospitalized for COVID-19, raising that total to 272. And an additional 148 people were confirmed to have tested positive during the past 24 hours. As of today, 4,288 Monterey County residents have tested positive.

To commemorate the deaths, Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez, chairman of the board, called for a moment of silence, and the press conference was conducted in front of 26 empty chairs.

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Cover that mug or face fines in Monterey County
July 28 — People who fail to cover their faces in Monterey County could be fined up to $500 after unanimous action by the Board of Supervisors today. The board approved an ordinance imposing fines against people who ignore state face-covering health orders in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Scofflaws who are cited would be fined $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second, and $500 for each subsequent violation. While the first several violations would not be considered a criminal matter, the ordinance approved by the Board of Supervisors today would allow the District Attorney to prosecute repeat violators on misdemeanor charges.

The action today also allows the county to hire temporary workers to enforce the health order. 

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Central Coast now exceed 5,000
July 28 — Another COVID-19 patient has died in Monterey County and nine more people have been hospitalized, according to health officials.

The death is the 24th in Monterey County — and the sixth in the past eight days. While no information about the latest victim has been released, the county’s demographic tracking indicates that the victim was under the age of 54. And the nine new patients in hospitals raise the total in the county to 264 since county health officials started tracking COVID-19 activity.

Including Santa Cruz County, more than 5,000 people have now tested positive for coronavirus since January. Santa Cruz County health officials, which was ordered to start shutting down certain business activities by the state because of a surge of new cases, has now confirmed 980 positive test outcomes, while Monterey County has confirmed 4,082.

Like Monterey County, a majority of cases in Santa Cruz (or 54 percent) have been confirmed among people who identify as Latinos or Hispanics. In Monterey County, almost 75 percent of the positive tests have been among Latino residents.

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More than a quarter of Monterey County Jail inmates tested positive for coronavirus since outbreak
July 27 — More than a quarter of inmates tested by officials at Monterey County Jail since July 6 have tested positive since July 6, according to Jim Bass, the chief deputy in charge of corrections.

Bass told reporters today that every inmate at the jail has been tested for COVID-19, and 195 of them have tested positive. Four of those inmates have hospitalized for advanced care, but all have been returned to the jail. He said 713 people are currently housed at the jail.

Bass also said 11 staff members at the jail have tested positive, though none have required hospitalizations.

Because of the outbreak, 63 of the inmates at the county jail have been released from the jail, and 34 of those were allowed early release due to an order signed by Superior Court’s presiding judge. He said every new inmate will be tested before admission and will be quarantined until their tests results are returned. All inmates are issued masks, which are replaced twice weekly.

Meanwhile, Monterey County health officials today confirmed an additional 80 residents have tested positive during the past 24 hours. Three of the have required hospitalizations. Since the Health Department started tracking the coronavirus in January, 4,082 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 255 have been hospitalized, while 23 people have died, including five during the past week.

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Half of Monterey County’s COVID-19 patients under the age of 34
July 26 — About half of the Monterey County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are under the ages of 34, according to county health officials, and a quarter of the confirmed deaths resulting from complications of the virus were among people under the age of 54.

The county Health Department this weekend started included more detailed demographic information about people who have tested positive and who have died.

Also this morning, a 23rd death was confirmed during the past 24 hours — the fifth fatal victim recorded in the past week — and the number of confirmed cases in Monterey County climbed to 4,002.

The more detailed information presented in the Health Department’s daily reports indicates that 84 percent of the 252 people who have been hospitalized since the outbreak of coronavirus identify as Latinos or Hispanics. Also, more than half the cases reported in the county are among people living in two ZIP codes covering East Salinas.

The virus is more likely to be found in people between the ages of 25 and 44, with 1,752 of the people within that age range testing positive. While only 604 of the residents who have tested positive are over the age of 54, 70 percent of all the fatal victims in the county fall into that age category.

The following is the most recent summary chart released by the Health Department:

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Hospitalizations on the Central Coast continue to climb
July 25 — The numbers of hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19 patients on the Central Coast continue to climb, with five more admitted to hospitals in Monterey County during the past 24 hours.

More than 250 patients from Monterey County have been admitted into hospitals since county health officials started keeping track in January.  Twenty-two Monterey County residents have died from complications related to the virus, including four in the past week.

In its latest tally of coronavirus-related statistics, county health officials reported that 88 new patients have tested positive, raising the total to 3,953.

In Santa Cruz County, which reported its fourth death attributed to COVID-19 earlier this week, 66 people have been hospitalized for treatment, while 885 have tested positive. The county has had good success in containing the virus until recently, but it was recently flagged for possible inclusion to the state watchlist, with possible closures of indoor-operated businesses imminent. Monterey County was under orders to shut down those types of operations several weeks ago.

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Death toll and case counts in Monterey County rise dramatically
July 23 — Monterey County health officials reported the fourth death attributed to complications from COVID-19 this week. The latest unidentified victim is the 22nd since the county started tracking the virus in January.

It latest daily update also indicated a one-day high of 181 new cases, with eight additional patients hospitalized. Overall, the county has now confirmed that 3,726 people have tested positive, and 245 have been hospitalized. Almost 9 percent of the 40,757 people tested in the county have tested positive for the virus, but the death rate in the county is less than 1 percent.

The increasing numbers of positive cases and deaths appears to be a continuing trend in Monterey County. Nearly two-thirds of all the confirmed cases have been found during the past 30 days, and seven people have died since the first of the month. More than 3,000 cases have been confirmed in Salinas and the Salinas Valley., with 75 percent of the cases reporting as Latino or Hispanics.

Across the United States, more than 4 million people have tested positive, with 145,888 deaths. In California, those numbers are 421,462 confirmed cases and 8,052 deaths.

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Monterey County COVID-19 death toll reaches 21
July 21 — The COVID-19 death toll in Monterey County has now reached 21, with two new deaths attributed to complications resulting from the virus confirmed by the county Health Department this morning.

The number of new cases reported by the county is relatively low; the 26 positive tests is one of the lowest one-day totals in the past month. But six more people have been admitted to county hospitals, raising that total to 227 since January.

As always, health officers are not identifying the most recent fatal victims or their hometowns, citing privacy laws.

As of this morning, 3,379 Monterey County residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Santa Cruz County health officials say that 58 additional people have tested positive since its previous update, raising the total in that county to 830, while 62 patients have been hospitalized and three people have died.

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Outbreak shuts down Salvation Army Shelter in Watsonville
July 20 — The Salvation Army Shelter in Watsonville has closed temporarily after eight residents and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Shelter residents have been relocated to sites that allow for isolation, according to Jason Hoppin, a spokesman for the county of Santa Cruz. Hoppin said all those who tested positive are asymptomatic and have been referred to the Homeless Persons Health Project for support.

The outbreak was discovered when a Salvation Army resident tested positive for positive while preparing for an unrelated medical procedure. The local communicable disease unit was dispatched to test others at the site, and seven additional residents and staff members tested positive, Hoppin said.

He added that operations at the shelter are expected to resume after the isolation period and after a “thorough” site cleaning. The shelter is located at 214 Union St. in Watsonville.

Santa Cruz County has reported 772 cases of COVID-19 in the county since January.

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Nineteenth Monterey County coronavirus death reported
July 20 — Monterey County reported its 19th death attributed to complications related to COVID-19 today,  along with 125 new positive tests and four more hospitalizations.

While the numbers are growing rapidly in Monterey County, the key percentage markers are holding relatively steady. As of today, 3,353 people in the county have tested positive for COVID-19 since the county started keeping track in January, which represents about .08 percent of all the residents who have been tested.  Statewide, that percentage is 2 percent.

On the other hand, almost two-thirds of the positive tests in Monterey County have been discovered during the past month, which like is the result of the growing number of residents being tested.

Also, the positive outcomes continue to be concentrated on the Latino population and in the Salinas Valley. Fifty percent of all the people who have tested positive live in two ZIP codes in East Salinas, and 2,771 of the cases are people who live in the Salinas Valley. Almost 27 percent of the people with the virus work in the agricultural industry.

The latest numbers released by the Monterey County Health Department today shows 125 new cases were confirmed during the past 24 hours and that 221 patients have been hospitalized in area hospitals since the pandemic started.

In Santa Cruz County, officials have reported 772 total cases, 59 hospitalizations and three deaths.

California has 7,718 deaths and almost 390,000 cases.

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Numbers of COVID-19 cases in Monterey County growing steadily
July 11 — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Monterey County has almost doubled during the past month, according to the running count of reported cases issued by the county’s health department.

With 121 new cases reported today, a total of 1,312 people have tested positive for the virus since June 11, representing nearly 45 percent of all the cases the county has reported since it started keeping track in January.  While the case numbers have grown significantly during the past 30 days, the death rate in Monterey County is relatively low. The 0.7 percent death rate compares to a 2.2 percent rate throughout California and the 4.2 percent rate across the United States.

Today’s report shows seven more people have been admitted to area hospitals, raising that cumulative total to 172. It also indicated that 102 of the new patients reportedly live in the Salinas Valley. Eighty-three percent of all the COVID-19 cases in Monterey County live in ZIP codes covering the Salinas Valley, according to health department statistics. More than a third of the people who have tested positive in the county live in two ZIP codes covering East Salinas.

It is unclear how many of the patients in the latest counts are inmates at Monterey County Jail. Other local media has reported that 67 inmates in one housing unit at the jail have tested positive.

More than 32,000 Monterey County residents have been tested for COVID-19, and the positive rate is about 7.8 percent, according to health department statistics.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz County has seen a climb of 31 new coronavirus cases during the past 24 hours, bringing its total to 568. Three people have died in Santa Cruz County as a result of complications due to COVID-19, while 18 have succumbed in Monterey County.

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Administrators at Salinas Valley Memorial warn the hospital is reaching COVID capacity
July 10 — Administrators at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital say they are worried the medical center may soon reach “the dangerous point of taxing hospital capacity.”

“That appears a very real possibility right now,” said Pete Delgado, president and CEO of SVMH, in a written statement released this afternoon. The hospital is currently caring for 22 COVID-19 patients, and three of them require the use of ventilators, Delgado said.

“Our team is doing an outstanding job making adjustments to safely accommodate all of our patients,” Delgado said. “However I’m concerned we may see another wave of COVID patients related to the recent holiday gatherings.”

What concerns administrators at SVMH is the steady increase of patients, he said. A month ago, the hospital was treating nine COVID-19 patients. The hospital has had to open a second unit in the hospital for COVID-19 patients. “Additional surge plan contingencies will be rolled out as needed,” according to the written statement.

Meanwhile, across town, officials at Natividad Medical Center said they are currently treating 14 COVID-19 patients at the hospital. And medical teams at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula are currently treating 11 patients.

Salinas has been the hardest-hit city in Monterey County, with 1,416 people testing positive for the coronavirus. That represents more than 58 percent of cases reported in the entire county.

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One more death in Monterey County attributed to COVID-19
July 10 — Monterey County has recorded another death related to complications from COVID-19, and seven more people have been hospitalized with symptoms of the virus, according to county health officials.

The death is the 18th for the county, and 2,419 people have tested positive for the virus since health officials started tracking COVID-19 in January. The seven new hospitalizations raise the cumulative number to 165.

As has been the case from the start, the Salinas Valley continues to see the largest spikes. In today’s report, 64 new cases were reported in Salinas Valley, compared to five on the Monterey Peninsula. Overall, 2,019 people from the valley have tested positive for the virus, compared to 212 in the Monterey Peninsula area that stretches from Marina to the Big Sur Coast.

Seventy-five percent of the patients in Monterey County identify as Latino or Hispanic.

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Monterey County formally receives its marching orders from the state
July 8 — Monterey County today received its formal order from the state to start restricting business activity again, and the order to close indoor operations at restaurants and wineries and to shut down bars and taverns completely is effective today.

In a written release from the county’s administrative office, the county is subject to the restrictions “because it is exceeding state health indicators.” The new order is in effect for at least three weeks.

The new order means that bars, breweries, pubs and brewpubs must shut down both indoor and outdoor operations immediately. And indoor dining at restaurants and wine tasting will not be allowed. “Restaurants should continue to encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible,” according to county officials. The order also means that museums and other indoor recreational facilities must shut down. Because of the order, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has delayed its planned reopening, which was supposed to happen this week.

Earlier today, the county released its daily report, which indicated that 31 more people in the county have tested positive for COVID-19, while three have been hospitalized. While those number are significantly lower than reports in the past two weeks, the report also shows that an increased number of cases have been reported in regions of the Monterey Peninsula outside of Monterey, Seaside and Marina.

The county reports numbers by ZIP code, but only identifies numbers in specific ZIP codes when they exceed five patients. Today’s report shows 19 new cases have been reported outside the three cities. Overall, 197 people from the entire Monterey Peninsula have tested positive for COVID-19 since the county started reporting cases in January. That’s compared to the Salinas Valley, where 1,897 of the total 2,270 cases have been reported.

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Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Monterey County
July 7 — A day after the governor asked Monterey County to scale back its reopening, the news from the county’s health department didn’t get much better. Two more people have reportedly died in the county as a result of complications related to COVID-19, three more people have been hospitalized, and 88 additional patients have tested positive, according to the numbers released today by county health authorities.

Of the newest cases, 60 were reported in the Salinas Valley, while 21 were concentrated within the Seaside ZIP code.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a tweet asking Monterey County and five other counties to close indoor operations in restaurants and wineries, while instructing health officers to shut down bars and taverns, due to the increasing numbers of hospitalizations of patients in the county.

As of today, 142 people have been admitted to hospitals in Monterey County due to the coronavirus since the county started keeping track. During that time, 17 people have died and 2,239 people have tested positive. The county reported today that 30,122 residents have been tested for coronavirus, and that 7.43 percent of them have tested positive.

No details about the fatalities have been released by county health officials.

Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz County, 501 residents have tested positive and 48 have been hospitalized, while three people have died.

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Governor asks Monterey County to close indoor dining again
July 6 —Citing the “alarming rates” of spread of COVID-19 in Monterey County, Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking Monterey County and five other counties in the state to close indoor operations in restaurants, wineries and movie theaters. And it is instructing health officers in those counties to close all bars.

Monterey County was placed on the state’s “watch list” on Friday as state officials saw an increasing number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The county was apparently unable to bring those numbers down since then, triggering the governor’s request.

Newsom issued his statement via Twitter about 12:20 p.m. today, and Monterey County’s health officer, Dr. Edward Moreno, has not yet issued his own order. At the time of the governor’s tweet, Moreno was on a press briefing with local media and said that he hadn’t heard from the governor’s office this morning.

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Monterey County reports 87 new COVID-19 cases, only one hospitalization
July 6 —Eighty-seven people from Monterey County were confirmed positive for the coronavirus during the past 24 hours, but only one patient has been admitted to a hospital, according to the Monterey County Health Department.

The hospitalization number may be key in whether state health officers keep the county on its watch list. If the county was unable to meet certain thresholds during the three-day holiday, the state will require the county to close bars, brewpubs, breweries for at least three week, while indoor dining will be put on hold.

The state placed the county on the watch list on Friday after an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases ad hospitalizations last week. According to the state’s calculations, the county should not be exceeding its patient hospitalizations over a three day period, compared to the previous three days.

The numbers released today indicates that 68 of the newest cases were among patients who lived in the Salinas Valley. While 27 of the cases reported on Sunday were concentrated in Seaside, today’s report shows that only one of the new patients is from Seaside.

Overall, 2,151 Monterey County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the county started keeping track in January. Fifteen have died, and 149 have been hospitalized, according to county officials.

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Seaside the new local coronavirus hotspot in Monterey County
July 5 —Monterey County reported another big jump in coronavirus cases again this morning, with 149 patients confirmed testing positive during the past 24 hours. It was the second consecutive day of record highs in the county. In today’s count, 27 of the new patients were from the Seaside ZIP code, an unprecedented number for that city.

As of today, more than 2,000 people from Monterey County have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

The latest report from the Monterey County Health Department comes a few days after state health officials placed Monterey County on the COVID-19 watch list, which means that bars and restaurants might need to be shuttered again if the county exceeds basic standards.

During the past two days, 273 new cases have been confirmed, raising the total to 2,064. In todays count, an addition eight patients have been hospitalized, raising the total to 148 since the county started keeping track of COVID-19 in January. The number of deaths in Monterey County remains at 15.

The new numbers reported today from Seaside represents nearly one-third of the 84 cases reported in the city since January.

While high in Seaside, the Salinas Valley continues to be hit hardest. Today’s count includes another 104 patients in Salinas and Salinas Valley. Nearly 85 percent of all the cases in Monterey County have been confirmed in that region. Seventy-six percent of the patients identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic.

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Monterey County reports spike, but few new hospitalizations
July 4 —With state health authorities keeping an eye on Monterey County while tourists flood into town, locals are watching the COVID-19 numbers carefully. This morning’s report from the county Health Department may not have been good news, with health officials reporting that 124 new people have been confirmed positive for the virus during the last 24 hours.

That’s the largest one-day jump since Monterey County started keeping tabs on coronavirus in January. More alarming, almost 25 percent of all cases in the county have been reported during the past week. The good news is that no new deaths were reported, and only three of the patients required hospitalizations.

Monterey County was placed on the state’s watch list on Thursday after an alarming spike of new deaths and positive tests. Almost immediately, local officials closed off access to beaches in the county in an effort to slow the onslaught of tourists in town for the Fourth of July weekend. The beach closures will continue through Sunday.

According to today’s report from the Monterey County Health Department, 1,915 people in Monterey County have tested positive for COVID-19, and 140 of them have required hospitalization. Fifteen people have died. Today’s report shows that 103 of the people testing positive in the past day live in the Salinas Valley. Seven are from the Monterey Peninsula. Nine people from Castroville were confirmed with the virus, bringing the total there to 39.

Santa Cruz County has been reporting increased numbers also, with 455 total confirmed cases, 48 hospitalizations and three deaths. The county has reported 97 new cases since Sunday.

California has reported 6,319 deaths since January.

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Monterey County on the state watch list; access to all local beaches closed this weekend

July 2 —Monterey County has been listed on the state’s “watch list” because of the persistent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Not coincidentally, access to beaches in Monterey County will be restricted and some beaches will be closed during the Independence Day weekend, starting on Friday.

A statement from the Monterey County Health Department this afternoon noted that the county is on the watch list because it has been exceeding both the state’s 14-day case rate threshold and its three-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

If the county remains on the watch list for at least three days, the state will require Monterey County to close all brewpubs, breweries, bars and pubs for at least three weeks. It will also require closure of indoor operations of dine-in restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms and other indoor public facilities.

“There is still much we must do as a community to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County health officer in the statement.  “Wearing a face covering when out in public, staying physically apart from people outside of your household, washing hands frequently, and staying home when sick can help to stabilize our case rate and protect the most vulnerable among us.”

The metrics the State is using to monitor the spread of the virus and county responses to the CDPH COVID-19 Data Monitoring Project team are available on the California Department of Public Health’s website.

Meanwhile, access to beaches up and down Monterey County will be off-limits to vehicles and beach visits are being discouraged, beginning on Friday. Even the Pebble Beach Co. is closing 17 Mile Drive to visitors, and is shutting down access points to attractions and beaches along the way.

Beaches administered by the State Parks Department will also be closed. They include Asilomar, Point Lobos and beaches down the Big Sur coast. Monterey and Pacific Grove are also closing parking lots and other access points to beaches in their cities.

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State Parks and PG shut down access to beaches
July 2 — State parks officials and the city of Pacific Grove are shutting down access to popular beaches and parks for the coming weekend, starting Friday, joining Monterey city officials in an effort to stave off the expected onslaught of tourist crowds during the Independence Day holiday.

Pacific Grove city officials said they are closing the turnouts along Ocean View Boulevard, as well as Lovers Point Park and surrounding beaches. City Manager Ben Harvey authorized the closures.

He said the western side of Lovers Point Beach will be open, but only for “water recreational activities,” including surfing, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling. The city is discouraging people from hanging around beaches unless they are engaging in the water activities.

The state Parks Department has closed vehicular access to its beaches in nine counties, including Monterey and Santa Cruz. A notice on the Point Lobos State Park website notes that the park is “open to local residents that can walk or hike” into the park, so long as they practice physical distance guidelines. Parking along Highway 1 near the gate of the park will apparently not be available.

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Monterey to shut down beaches this weekend
July 1— Monterey city officials will close off beach and public parking lots this weekend in an effort to keep huge crowds from its beaches.

The city also issued a new emergency order today that the state public health guidelines that would impose fines of $100 on people who violate mandatory face-mask orders $100, effective immediately.

“Our code enforcement officer has the authority to cite without warning anyone not wearing a face covering in our business areas,” said City Manager Hans Uslar, in a written statement issued this morning “People and business know by now that masks are required and we have to compel compliance to reduce the spread of the virus. Our educational approach has shown success, yet, we need to do much better.”
The parking lot and “hard closure” of beaches will be imposed on Saturday and Sunday, in anticipation of large crowds during the 4th of July weekend. Ocean activities will be allowed, including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing, and  scuba  diving. But all beach activities will be prohibited.
No-parking signs will be posted on Del Monte Beach neighborhood streets, the Monterey Bay Park parking lot, and Sand Dunes Drive near Monterey Tides Hotel. The Waterfront Lot will remain open including the area in front of and behind Dust Bowl Brewery.
“These weekend restrictions may not be popular, but they are imperative to save lives and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Mayor Clyde Roberson, in the statement released today.

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One new death and 8 additional hospitalizations reported in Monterey County
June 30 — A third death attributed to COVID-19 in the past three days has been reported in Monterey County by public health authorities, and another eight people have been hospitalized.

The Monterey County Health Department’s daily updates during the past several days seem to indicate that an increasing number of the new cases are being confirmed on the Monterey Peninsula. During the past two days, 16 people were reported as testing positive. About half of those numbers were concentrated in Seaside, and at least two of the patients are from Monterey.

Kate Woods Novoa, who publishes a news blog called Big Sur Kate, reported this weekend that the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Big Sur. The patient is apparently an employee at a restaurant on the South Coast.

In its report today, the county health officer reported that 37 new cases were confirmed over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 1,642 in Monterey County since health officials started keeping track in January. The eight new hospitalizations raise the total in Monterey County to 130.

The numbers of COVID-19 cases also continue to grow in the Salinas Valley, with 1,417 patients reportedly testing positive for the virus. The death reported today raises the total in Monterey County to 15.

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Monterey County reports 104 new COVID-19 cases overnight

June 28 — Monterey County public health officials this morning reported 104 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the largest single-day count since they started keeping track of the virus in January. They also reported another death, the 13th attributed to complications arising from coronavirus.

The officials included no information about the latest fatality, but only listed it on its daily local data report.

The 104 new cases represent the largest daily jump for Monterey County, though the daily report also noted that only one new patient has been hospitalized in county hospitals. The daily report noted that 98 of the new cases were from the Salinas Valley, and that 61 of them are from two ZIP codes in East Salinas. Two new cases were reported in Monterey.

To date, Monterey County officials have confirmed 1,548 cases of coronavirus, 121 of which have required hospitalizations. They reported that 924 of the the patients have recovered. In a county with a population that’s about 60 percent Latino, 80 percent of the patients identify as Latino or Hispanic.

About one-third of all the cases confirmed in Monterey County have been reported during the past 18 days.

California has reported 210,673 cases, with 5,900 deaths attributed to COVID-19, while the United States has reported almost 2.6 million cases, and almost 128,000 deaths.

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Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.