CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Throughout the week, the percentage of positive coronavirus cases in Contra Costa County is slowly trending down, but hospitalizations are up.

The health department says large gatherings are a big reason why.​

The county is exploring alternative ways to penalize people and businesses not following health orders.​

On July 1, the seven-day average for people hospitalized in Contra Costa County after testing positive for COVID-19 was 39.​

The latest numbers show that average has more than doubled — now standing at 81.​

“And, we’ve seen a shift. And, this has been a shift seen nationwide as well,” Health officer Chris Farnitano said. “Currently, in our local hospitals, of the COVID patients that are in a hospital, only about 30 to 35 percent of them need to be in an ICU.”

​County public health officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano says one reason fewer patients are requiring time in an intensive care unit is because recently, the highest infection rate is among people between 20 and 40-years-old.​

An age group that often develops more mild symptoms compared to elderly people with pre-existing respiratory conditions.​

That’s why Farnitano says it’s vital younger people adhere to the health order and avoid large gatherings.​

He says businesses need to improve enforcing social distancing requirements and the usage of face coverings as well.​

“We saw people gathering for Father’s Day, we saw people gathering for backyard barbecues and things like that,” Farnitano said. “And, I think the messaging has really gotten out in the last couple of weeks that that has resulted in things going the wrong direction.”​

“From big box retailers to a corner store, to a gym, to personal training business, landscapers, its been kind of running the gamut here,” Scott Alonso with the District Attorney’s Office said.

​The District Attorney’s office says its consumer protection unit has fielded nearly 200 public complaints since April — reporting businesses not following health orders.​

Spokesperson Scott Alonso says the unit follows-up on every complaint.

“We send them a warning letter. We hand deliver it usually if we can, outlining the possible penalties, since they are pretty severe,” Alonso said. “I mean, we can take civil action against them, where they can face several thousands of dollars in fines potentially, or actually being shutdown. So, we haven’t taken that step yet, but its something available to us.”​

The county board of supervisors is also exploring an administrative ordinance.​

If it eventually passes a vote, violating health orders would be an infraction and could result in an immediate ticket and fine.​

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