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Nevada County officials warn of norovirus

COVID-19 case numbers may be dropping, but Nevada County’s Public Health Department advises that vigilant hand washing and mask wearing can help mitigate other health threats.

“These last few years have changed the norm,” Nevada County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet said, adding that she hopes wearing a mask in the United States will endure as it has in other countries, especially during seasons of increased respiratory illness and communicable disease in general. “Certainly, in my life, masks are here to stay, and I think that may be true for many people.”

Trochet and Public Health Officer Dr. Sherilynn Cooke on Wednesday discussed an outbreak of the norovirus, an illness that causes nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Trochet said the county has seen instances of the norovirus, a sickness generally associated with cruise ship outbreaks in Nevada County’s congregate living facilities and schools.



Trochet said the virus is contagious “person-to-person” and is “usually very short-lived.” The very elderly, young children and those with serious medical conditions are at risk for complications, Trochet said.

The key difference in defense measures one can take against the virus, Trochet said, is that hand sanitizer does not kill norovirus like it does the coronavirus.



“You need to wash with soap and water,” Trochet said. “People who are sick should not be preparing food for others. You need to clean with bleach and make sure your pans and plates are washed with very hot water.”

CORONAVIRUS

Health and Human Services Director Ryan Gruver said there were 31 new cases of COVID-19 this week, and noted how dramatically the positive case rate has fallen in the nine weeks since the Omicron surge peaked.

Health and Human Services Director Ryan Gruver showed a graph of the COVID-19 pandemic’s progress over the last 20 months.

Gruver noted that the peak recorded by the county’s health department in January was “just a slice of what was going on with the Omicron variant” at the time.

“Thankfully, there have been dramatic declines since,” Gruver said. “We’re at lows we haven’t seen since last spring.”

Gruver said local health authorities are keeping an eye on the most recent COVID-19 variant to make headlines – omicron BA.2.

Because of the decline in cases, Gruver said the state is now reporting public-facing data on Friday.

Since the pandemic’s start in March 2020, Nevada County has reported 16,098 cases.

According to Cooke, there are currently zero patients in local hospitals for COVID-19.

Cooke said the second booster shot is for those vaccinated who are 50 and over, or under 50 with a compromised immune system.

Cooke said Moderna has federal approval for those 18 and over, and the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those 16 and over.

“Vaccines are available and easy to get in the community,” Cooke said. “If you have questions about them, talk to your health care provider. Keep up with the hand washing and the masking, and hopefully we will get out of the pandemic soon.”

Cooke said the state does not have an answer or set case rate threshold to rely on to anticipate the end of the pandemic.

“In general, we feel that it’s going into endemic status because it is still circulating in the population at a relatively low but steady state with cyclic activity up and down — kind of like the seasonal flu,” Cooke said.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com


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