Public Health Officer Report
At our April 9 HIP Council meeting, we were joined by the Santa Cruz County Public Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel. Dr. Newel provided an update on local COVID-19 cases, emphasizing that the county strategy has moved from one of containment to one focused on mitigation of negative health outcomes, specifically for our more vulnerable populations. These populations include people in our jails, those experiencing homelessness, and skilled nursing facility residents.
Dr. Newel also explained that testing for COVID-19 is still an issue for our community, as it is throughout the nation. Not only is there a significant lack of testing capacity, but at the time of our meeting, it was taking an average of two weeks for results to return. This makes our current testing programs less effective in terms of timely diagnoses.
Since the shelter-in-place order took effect on March 9, Santa Cruz County has been doing very well with flattening the curve. Santa Cruz County is in fact one of the best counties in the state with respect to transmission rates and hospitalizations for COVID-19. Dr. Newel stressed that we have a long way to go and that community members are required to continue to adhere to the shelter-in-place order (as it seems to be working).
This HIP Council meeting took place over a month ago, and COVID-19 data change daily. Below is an image from May 13, 2020 from the County’s website showing the number of cases and demographics. For the most up-to-date and accurate COVID-19 data for our county, please visit the County’s website here: https://www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus
We also had the opportunity for partner check-ins. Each HIP partner agency representative shared their organizational challenges, silver linings, and ideas for how HIP can help in the community’s COVID-19 response. Common challenges mentioned amongst partners included financial sustainability, need for crisis workforce, and providing care to vulnerable communities such as homeless and uninsured individuals. Common silver linings mentioned included the implementation of telehealth services and workforce resiliency. HIP will continue to support the integrated community-wide response to this epidemic by convening stakeholders, disseminating information and connecting the efforts of our partners. Please let us know how we can help!