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Federal $$, Strike Teams Deploy To Fight COVID
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California’s Central Valley – one of the premier agriculture areas in the world – has also become a hot spot for COVID-19.

Efforts announced this week by Governor Gavin Newsom promise federal funding and ‘strike teams’ of health care professionals, deploying to an eight-county region to help in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.

Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties are among the eight targeted; both have positive test rates well above the state average of under 8 percent.

In Stanislaus County, the latest figures show 8,228 positive cases with 95 COVID deaths, including 39 in the last two weeks. There have been 6,770 recovered cases but the recent tests show a 13.5 percent positive rate.

Stanislaus County Health Services Agency testing numbers include those reported through the State infectious disease reporting system. The numbers do not necessarily include those routed through a commercial laboratory. All positive cases must be reported to Public Health.

San Joaquin County, meanwhile, reported that as of July 27, ICUs in the county were at 127 percent capacity with 262 COVID positive patients being treated in hospitals within the county and 75 of them in intensive care.

There were 10,728 total cases in San Joaquin County, including 3,801 in the last two weeks and 40 COVID deaths in the last two weeks, bringing the total in the county to date to 110. San Joaquin County currently has a 12.3 percent positive test rate.

“Today’s 262 COVID positive hospitalizations is a new high for San Joaquin County hospitals and marks the 24th consecutive day hospitals have had to operate above 100 percent ICU capacity to meet demand,” said Dan Burch, EMS Administrator, in releasing the figures on Monday.

Also on Monday, the governor announced that $52 million in federal funds will be funneled into the region for additional testing and assistance in quarantining those testing positive. In many cases, the positive tests are coming from areas including agricultural enterprises, where social distancing is difficult. Also, a large portion of the positive cases are being seen among Hispanics, many of whom are seasonal workers in the agricultural region.

Strike teams for hospitals will also help with testing, contact tracing and assessing outbreaks.

The eight counties, in addition to Stanislaus and San Joaquin, are Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera Merced and Tulare and have a combined population of more than four million.