Contra Costa Health Services offers a website with resources and information about the novel coronavirus. (Image courtesy of Contra Costa Health Services)

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The number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Contra Costa County is still going up, but at a slower pace than feared, county health officials said Tuesday.

“The numbers are rising, as we expected, but not as fast as in the worst-case scenarios,” Anna Roth, director of Contra Costa Health Services, said during a “telephone town hall” meeting convened by 15th District Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks of Oakland and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond. Western Contra Costa County is part of Wicks’ district.

Gioia said it appears the public’s compliance with shelter-in-place orders and related actions to curb the spread of novel coronavirus seem to be helping “flatten the curve” of new cases, limiting the crushing outbreaks that have taxed hospitals in New York City, New Jersey, New Orleans and other places.

As of Wednesday morning, Contra Costa County had reported 462 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths. That is up from 386 cases and six deaths Monday morning. Contra Costa Health Services reported that 30 county residents were in the hospital Wednesday for treatment of the coronavirus, with 15 of them in intensive care.

As for testing, Roth said Contra Costa Health Plan members can go to testing centers in Martinez, Pittsburg or San Pablo if they have the standard symptoms — fever, shortness of breath and cough.

For anyone else with symptoms, calls to their own doctors or health plans with descriptions of symptoms should yield further direction, said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer.

Roth also said that while more than 5,800 county residents have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out, efforts are ramping up to get more tests to two especially vulnerable populations — first responders and the homeless.

Roth said about 150 residents of county-operated shelters are being moved to hotel rooms this week, both to lessen COVID-19 spread and to free up shelter space near a central county clinic.

Also, homeless encampments are being left intact for the time being, so residents don’t scatter. Roth said dispersing the encampments spreads the virus even further, and would make it harder to keep track of individuals to help them.

“We want to remain connected to them, to get them to better living conditions,” Roth said. “We know where they are, and we have our outreach teams working with them.”

Gioia addressed another vulnerable population: county jail inmates. He didn’t have exact figures Tuesday, but he said a significant number of “low-level offenders” and some others whose terms are nearing an end have been released from jails to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The intake of new prisoners, he added, has been minimal.

Farnitano had advice for child care providers, whose services have been especially valuable to health care workers and others responding to the coronavirus emergency. Groups of kids must be of 12 or fewer, he said, and must not mingle with one another. Similarly, he said, day care providers also must not mingle with one another while caring for their young charges.

Contra Costa Health Services, on its coronavirus website “dashboard”, is now providing city-by-city breakdowns of the number of patients from each of the county’s 19 cities and for seven unincorporated communities.

It also shows which of those cities has the largest per-capita confirmation rate. Richmond, with the county’s second-largest population, on Wednesday has the most patients at 43, just ahead of 37 in Concord, the county’s largest city. Orinda has the highest rate of confirmed cases per capita on Wednesday, at 182 cases per 100,000 residents (33 confirmed patients from a population of 18,098).