Health officials address COVID surge at Good Morning Truckee

Officials from the health sector, Truckee, and Placer and Nevada counties came together at this week’s Good Morning Truckee forum to provide several updates as the community heads into 2022.

The spike in positive COVID-19 cases took center stage at the meeting following a week in which events and after-school activities for students were halted, and then resumed with greater restrictions in place.

Tahoe Forest Health System President and CEO Harry Weis said the hospital, which serves western Washoe County, eastern Placer County, and eastern Nevada County, has seen a surge of roughly five times the number of positive tests.

“That’s pretty remarkable as we look at the last 23 months,” said Weis. “Our health system has been very, very busy.”

Judy Newland, Tahoe Forest Health System chief operating officer, said the area has also seen a massive increase in the positivity rate for tests, which have jumped from around 5% to more than 30%. She added that many of the positive tests are coming from people experiencing only cold-like symptoms.

“It’s really, ‘I just have a runny nose,’ and those individuals are coming back positive,” said Newland. “If you have a runny nose, don’t just assume it’s a cold and please make sure you wear your mask.”

Tahoe Forest Health System only tests people who are symptomatic. The surge in cases has also resulted in more than 500 calls per day coming in to set up COVID-19 tests, according to Newland. Staffing-wise, Newland said 75 employees at the hospital are out with positive COVID-19 tests, while dozens more are also missing work as the quarantine.

The Omicron variant has been tied to the global surge in COVID cases, but locally, Chief Medical Officer Shawni Coll said that as of last week, four Omicron cases have been identified with another two suspected. However, health officials are still awaiting more data to come in.

“It just takes awhile to come back,” said Coll on sequencing the genomes of the coronavirus. “Our suspicion is that it is rising in our area, but we just don’t have the actual, concrete data to back that up.”

Free testing for people symptomatic and non-symptomatic is at the Logistics Health Inc. site at the Old Gateway Center, at 10990 Donner Pass Road. Pre-registration is required and can be done at or by calling 888-634-1123.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

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