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Sacramento has reached coronavirus 'tipping point,' health officials warn residents to stay home July 4th

“The way to be patriotic this — and only this — holiday is to stay at home,” said Dr. Peter Bielenson Bielenson, Sacramento County's public health director.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It’s now more likely than ever before that a person in Sacramento County could come into contact with someone infected with coronavirus, the county’s top health officials said Tuesday while urging the public to heed health guidance ahead of the Independence holiday.

“I think we’ve actually reached the tipping point already,” said Dr. Peter Bielenson, Director of Health Services for Sacramento County.

How people in the region act this upcoming holiday weekend could be the difference between bending the curve or a massive surge in new cases, which could lead to an overcrowded hospital system.

Sacramento County health officials say a majority of new coronavirus cases have been linked back to in-home gatherings, a serious point of concern as the July 4th holiday approaches.

Bielenson says that with the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations skyrocketing in the county, this 4th of July will be a crucial time for people to stay home.

“The way to be patriotic this — and only this — holiday is to stay at home,” Bielenson said.

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If you would like to celebrate the 4th of July safely, you are urged to do it at home only with members of your household. If you plan to go out to a fireworks display, you are urged to stay in your vehicle the entire time.

“Do not get out. Do not get on a blanket and sit next to other people,” Bielenson said.

One-third of all coronavirus cases Sacramento County have been recorded within the last week. County data shows 1,000 new cases in the last week compared to 2,000 cases over the entire previous 18 weeks. While health officials say some of the increase reporting may be linked to increased availability of testing, they say there has been an alarming increase in hospitalizations.

Eight people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Sacramento County two weeks ago and now hospitals are treating 98 coronavirus patients.

The number of patients in Sacramento County’s Intensive Care Units (ICU) has also risen dramatically in the last two weeks from just two patients to 27.

Sacramento County is currently using 300 of its 400 ICU beds and has an additional 813 beds available in the event of a surge in hospitalizations.

While the county’s hospital system is not currently overloaded, Bielenson says it will be quickly if the rate of spread in new coronavirus cases continue to rise at the same rate.

On Monday, Sacramento County Health officials ordered all 17 of the county’s bar-only establishments to close, after calls from California’s Governor and Department of Health to do so.

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State health officials say bars are now the highest risk non-essential businesses open across the state right now. They say new evidence points a number of coronavirus outbreaks in the state to bars.

“But by far the biggest issue is families, extended families gathering with friends. Gathering in their houses, outside of houses, congregating, not wear masks, not staying six feet apart,” Bielenson said. “And just because someone is related to you, if they haven’t been living with you, doesn’t mean that they can’t have the virus or spread it. In fact that’s what’s happening.”

The recent rise in new cases can be attributed to three factors including cabin fever, recent easing of California’s at home order, and messaging fatigue, Bielenson said.

Still, he is urging everyone to continue following the health guidance form state and county officials to help slow the spread of coronavirus which is to stay home as much as possible, stay six feet from other people, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Giacomo Luca.

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