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COVID-19 case in Rossmoor? County officials present conflicting info

(July 15) The chief of staff for Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen wrote in an email last month that at least one case of COVID-19 has been confirmed inside Rossmoor. But a spokesman for Contra Costa County Health Services said the agency “does not have data available” to show that is true.

In a June 22 reply to an email sent to Andersen’s office by Rossmoor resident Jay Wasson, Andersen’s chief of staff, Gayle Israel, wrote: “… we have less than 11 cases in Rossmoor and no deaths. Due to privacy concerns, we aren’t going to release the exact number of cases (too small a number for the size of the population there).”

In response to inquiries from the Rossmoor News, Israel declined to elaborate on the email she sent Wasson or what information it was based upon, referring all questions to Contra Costa County Health Services.

CCHS spokesman Karl Fischer said in an email that the agency has no data breaking out COVID-19 cases in Rossmoor from the rest of Walnut Creek, “so we cannot confirm if there are positive cases specifically in Rossmoor.”

County health officials have told GRF CEO Tim O’Keefe much the same when he repeatedly has asked about infections in Rossmoor. He has been told that the county does not identify Rossmoor in its database because it’s not a city. Earlier this month, a county health official once again said, “we do not release specific locations or addresses.”

Fischer further explained the rationale behind that, saying the agency “does not publicly provide addresses or other personal identifiers of COVID-positive patients to protect their medical privacy, as required by the law. Also, in communities with 10 or fewer positive cases, we don’t reveal exactly how many cases are confirmed because with such a small number, it might be possible for residents to tell who the COVID-positive community member is, which would violate their medical privacy.”

When asked to clear up the conflict between her email to Wasson and CCHS’s statement that it has no data confirming COVID-19 cases in Rossmoor, Israel again deferred to Fischer.

“I’d like to let what he said stand,” she said.

If Rossmoor has fewer than 11 cases, as Israel’s email indicates, it remains well below the federal, state and county infection rates. For example, based on the federal rate (as of press time), Rossmoor should have 85 infections by now.

“So, hats off to the Rossmoor residents who have been careful and have taken the precautions seriously,” O’Keefe said, who added that continued diligence is crucial to keeping the virus from spreading.

At press time, the confirmed cases of COVID-19 stood at 3.05 million in the United States, 277,774 in California, 4,241 in Contra Costa County and 187 in Walnut Creek.

A number of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at the ManorCare skilled nursing facilities near Rossmoor. As of press time, the state Department of Public Health had reported 82 positive tests among patients, including at least one death, and 30 positive tests among workers at its facility at 1975 Tice Valley Road. ManorCare had previously confirmed one positive patient test at its facility at 1226 Rossmoor Parkway.