Modoc County, in California’s far northeast corner, reported its first two COVID-19 infections Tuesday, which means that all 58 counties in the state have now confirmed at least one case of coronavirus.
As cases surged throughout the state and ravaged nearby counties in Northern California, Modoc had remained untouched by the virus and, at times, defied state safety orders.
But on Tuesday, 146 days after the state’s initial shelter-in-place order went into effect, the county’s health services department announced that two people from the same household had contracted the virus and that close contacts would be identified. Those who may have patronized a local bar over the past 14 days were advised to call the county’s coronavirus hotline.
“How lucky we have been to not see COVID-19 in our county until now, but it’s here and we could see the number of cases increase in the next few weeks,” Director of Health Services Stacy Sphar said.
The Modoc Medical Center also announced that it would be tightening visitation guidelines at its local nursing facility and hospital.
The county of less than 9,000 was the first to defy California’s shutdown orders. Weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom instructed businesses to close, the county reopened its economy May 1 ahead of approval. At the time, the state had just recorded roughly 50,000 infections and 2,000 deaths.
County Sheriff William Dowdy was also one of the first sheriffs in the state to announce that he would not enforce Newsom’s statewide mask order.
“It’s kind of insulting for the state or anybody else to think that we don’t have the common sense to do the right thing,” Dowdy told The Times earlier this month. “And the right thing is different depending on the person. We all have our rights.”
The county is not currently on the state’s watch list as its case count, number of hospitalizations and hospital capacity, and rate of positive infections currently meet the state’s safety threshold for COVID-19 guidelines.
Los Angeles County is one of the more than 30 counties the state is monitoring for surges in cases and hospitalizations. The county accounts for the bulk of the state’s infections, which total more than 473,000, and 8,724 deaths.
The county reported 91 deaths and 4,825 cases Wednesday, bringing its total number of infections to more than
183,00 and the death toll to more than 5,000. Three of the newly reported deaths were among people between the ages of 18 and 29. Two of those people had underlying health conditions.
The state recorded its highest single-day count for deaths on Tuesday, following weeks of spikes in case count and hospitalization that have been linked to private gatherings, outbreaks at workplaces and activity over the Fourth of July weekend.