Less Than One Percent Of The County’s Population Has Been Coronavirus Tested

Six weeks after the regimen of isolation in the face of the coronavirus pandemic began in earnest, this week the number of known/confirmed cases of the condition in San Bernardino County eclipsed two thousand and the death toll was approaching 100.
Simultaneously, millions of the county’s residents remain untested, and substantial numbers of those who are currently evincing or once experienced the symptoms or those who fall into high risk categories associated with the disease cannot get tested.
As of Tuesday, April 29, 1,827 San Bernardino County residents had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the San Bernardino County Department of Health, and 85 had died.
By Wednesday, according to the San Bernardino County Department of Health, the death toll had climbed to 89 and the number of infected countywide stood at 1,928.
At that point, nearly one in ten of those who had been tested – 9.9 percent – had evinced indications that they had the disease. Significantly, just 19,499 of the county’s 2.2 million people had been tested.
On Thursday, the San Bernardino County Department of Health reported that 2,058 people had tested positive and that 93 people had succumbed to the affliction.
Late this afternoon, Friday, May 1, word came that 2,113 county residents have tested positive and 94 have perished.
The breakdown on those infected throughout the county shows that 30 of those cases involved residents of Adelanto, one case was in Angelus Oaks, 29 in Apple Valley, nine in Barstow, three in the unincorporated area of Big Bear City, five in the incorporated City of Big Bear Lake, 27 in Bloomington, three in Blue Jay, 64 in Chino, 61 in Chino Hills, 70 in Colton, six in Crestiline, 251 in Fontana, two in Fort Irwin, 13 in Grand Terrace, 58 in Hesperia, 67 in Highland, 15 in Joshua Tree, 39 in Loma Linda, 12 in Mentone, 32 in Montclair, five in Morongo Valley, 13 in Oak Hills, 157 in Ontario, three in Piñon Hills, nine in Phelan; 119 in Rancho Cucamonga, 117 in Redlands, 97 in Rialto, one in Rimforest, three in Running Springs, 252 in San Bernardino, five in Twentynine Palms, 92 in Upland, 96 in Victorville, one in Wrightwood, 176 in Yucaipa, and 12 in Yucca Valley. The place of residence for 158 of those who had tested positive for the virus was either not known, confidential, withheld, not provided or undetermined.
The Sentinel has learned and now notes that the figures relating to the infection rate and death rate from COVID-19 in the county is incomplete. The figures provided by the county do not reflect those infected within the state penal system at facilities located in San Bernardino County, nor do they cover those in other state institutions. It does not appear that they account for those in federal penal or treatment facilities, either. It is unclear whether they include those housed in the county’s detention facilities. County officials as of today were unable to say whether the number of those infected within the sheriff’s department’s holding facilities in Victorville or Joshua Tree, or its detention facilities in Rancho Cucamonga, Adelanto, San Bernardino or Glen Helen were included in the Department of Health’s numbers.
At the Chino Institution For Men, as of this morning, 110 inmates were infected and 32 staff members were infected. There had been one death at the prison, as well. At the nearby Frontera California Institution for Women in Chino, there was a single known case. In this way, the actual number of known cases of infection in Chino is 202.
Also according to the State of California, there are three staff and one resident infected with the coronavirus, for a total of four, at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. This would, if those numbers are not included in those kept by the San Bernardino County Department of Health, bring the actual number of known cases in Rancho Cucamonga to 123.
The State of California also shows 11 staff members at Patton State Hospital infected. Patton Hospital, which cares for the criminally insane and those there on civil commitments, lies entirely within the San Bernardino city limits. Thus, the total number of COVID-19 infected individuals in San Bernardino would appear to be 263.
Some progress in the treatment of the malady is being made locally.
At St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, medical professionals there have begun
accepting blood donations to gather plasma from former COVID-19 patients as a stratagem to assist those who are critically ill with the virus.
The experimental treatment consists of injecting blood plasma from former COVID-19 sufferers, which is rich in antibodies to ward off the virus, into those currently struggling with the disease and its sometimes fatal symptoms. This approach is not used routinely or casually, but is reserved for those most seriously infected with the condition, whose prognosis for recovery is slimmest within the population, and who have not responded to other treatment modalities.
According to a statement from St. Mary, “Historically, plasma from those who have recovered from infection has been used as a potentially lifesaving treatment when new diseases or infections develop quickly, and no treatments or vaccines were available.”
Accordingly, St. Mary is seeking blood donors who have documented evidence they have been infected with COVID-19 and have been symptom free at least four weeks or symptom free at least two weeks and subsequently test negative for the virus. Those who meet that criteria are then sent to the LifeStream Blood Bank, which will extract the plasma. Under an agreement, LifeStream then routes half of the plasma collected from first-time donors to St. Mary for immediate use in its ongoing plasma-injection program for the treatment of critical COVID-19 patients, and keeps the other half on hand for distribution to other area hospitals which it is anticipated will soon incorporate plasma injection into their panoply of treatments for those critically ill with COVID-19.
In a release, Dr. Joe Chaffin, LifeStream’s chief medical officer said, “Though convalescent plasma has not been fully proven to be effective in patients with COVID-19, there are encouraging signs from early studies. By collecting this product, LifeStream is proud to help hospitals develop better understanding of the use of convalescent plasma for patients in desperate need.”
Those interested in becoming donors can learn more at lstream.org/covidplasma.
Simultaneously, public health and medical professionals in San Bernardino County have perpetuated one of the primary shortcomings in the response to the crisis by a widespread, indeed virtually universal, failure to perform adequate testing on the county population to ascertain the extent of the infection.
The county’s largest medical care providers – Kaiser Permanente, Inland Empire Health Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of California, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Beaver Medical, the County Hospital – along with smaller care providers and the County Department of Public Health have abided in the same situation for weeks. Tens of thousands certainly and perhaps hundreds of thousands of those infected and vulnerable remain under lockdown in their homes, feverish and unable to be tested, such that their COVID-19 status remains undetermined and they remain without medical care.
Promises made more than a month ago by the San Bernardino County Department of Health that it would provide testing to county residents concerned that they might have contracted the condition were reneged upon almost immediately. Registrants for that testing, including ones who met most of the priority criteria for testing – a persistent cough, fever, shortness of breath, body ache, sore throat, age of 65 or more – when they attempted to take the county up on its testing offer by applying on March 26 to be included in the round of testing that took place in San Bernardino on March 27 were overlooked in favor of those who had traveled internationally or had contact with those known to have had the virus. Similarly, hundreds or perhaps thousands were turned away when they attempted to take advantage of the county’s offer to perform testing in Yucaipa on April 11, in Montclair on April 14, in Big Bear Lake on April 17, in Joshua Tree on April 22, and in Rancho Cucamonga on April 27.
Earlier this week, the county and its health department, perhaps smarting over criticism that it had neglected the testing of the most vulnerable elements of its population thus far, committed to a revamping of the prioritization for testing, saying that as of yesterday, Thursday, April 30, those older than 65 would be provided with testing if they were to merely show up at any future announced testing locations or Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, the main campus of the county hospital in Colton, whether or not they were currently evincing symptoms of the coronoavirus. Nevertheless, when some residents showed up at the county hospital to avail themselves of that testing offer, they were turned away.
At present, 20,598 – less than one out of 100, or .09362727 percent – of the county’s 2.2 million residents have been tested.
-Mark Gutglueck

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