MERCED (BLJ) -- This evening the Merced County Department of Public Health held an hour-long, comprehensive question-and-answer session on Covid-19 in the county.
The key to answering that question is the availability of testing people with symptoms and/or people in particularly vulnerable groups. Unfortunately, health department officials responded to direct questions like the defense attorneys in Trump's impeachment hearing. However, we were able to glean the following from beneath the obfuscation: there have been 27 people tested by the county health department, of which half were not infected and test results are not yet available for the other half; there have been "about twice as many people" tested by commercial labs and none of those results are yet available or at least as yet reported to the health department; the doctors of patients tested commercially are supposed to report positive test results to the health department.
So, in a county of 256,000 people, perhaps 90 have been tested.
The special case of UC Merced.
Yesterday a student was placed in isolation by the campus health service and tested for the virus yesterday, according to print and television media accounts. When asked directly about the case, the staffer for the county health department answered that there were no "confirmed" cases at UC Merced. During other parts of the session, she stated that it took from three to seven days for test results to be returned to Merced County. Neither the health department or the commercial lab in town has the capacity to analyze specimens locally. If the student tests positively, the protocol requires everyone who had contact with the infected student to be quarantined for 14 days.
The assembled physicians, scientists and bureaucrats stated that they have no authority to limit the amount of toilet paper people are buying, but they have heard that other jurisdictions may be directing markets to limit sales to the "pi-pi-paper" hoarders.