While COVID-19 is taking up most of public health time and energy, that does not mean that other health concerns in the community have gone away.
Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said that, were it not for COVID-19, public health would be focused on sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and heart disease.
-- Luu mentioned syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea as STDs that are a problem in the region.
“We were looking into doing aggressive contact investigation for syphilis and other STDs,” Luu said. “Just like COVID-19, and other infectious diseases, the means to break the chain of transmission is to do contact investigation.”
-- Public health programs centered on heart disease and cancer prevention were also put on hold due to the pandemic.
“It is striking that though both counties have relatively lower rates of cancer incidences (new diagnoses of cancer), the cancer mortality or deaths related to cancer is higher,” Luu said. “This makes me concerned that Yuba-Sutter residents are not seeking age-appropriate cancer screening such as mammogram, colonoscopy, etc.”
-- Public health is also concerned about higher rates of tobacco use in Yuba-Sutter which can lead to deaths related to heart disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Luu said it is too early to tell if the presence of coronavirus in the region exacerbated pre-existing health concerns in Yuba-Sutter.
“There are some concerning signs that Yuba-Sutter residents are delaying chronic medical care in the past several months,” Luu said.