On the rise: Nevada County sees ‘surge’ in COVID-19 cases

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

Nevada County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet said that when asked Wednesday to speculate about how many more positive cases there are in Nevada County than appear on the agency’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Public Health Director Jill Blake said some people estimate the number of at-home positive test results could vary anywhere from two to 10 times more than what the health system is reporting.

“It’s clear we are having a surge,” Blake said. “How many cases we (as a county) are reporting? That is something we can’t give an exact number on.”

The county saw 1,095 new cases reported from Feb. 1 to 28, but only another 198 from Feb. 28 to March 31, and 146 from March 31 to April 29.

An additional 226 cases were recorded from April 29 to Tuesday. There were 105 active cases as of Tuesday.

Blake said the department’s data available online is factual and sufficient to declare the uptick a surge. Further, Blake said the entire state is seeing the increased positive case rate. Trochet referenced a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that indicated wastewater surveillance data reflected evidence of a surge as well.

“We don’t have as complete data as before, as additional cases (are) being identified with over-the-counter rapid tests,” Blake said. “The scale is larger than we know at this time, but we can tell you we are in a surge. We can tell you these recommendations are appropriate for surge activity.”

Blake said the department has also received anecdotal evidence that would suggest a surge.

Trochet said the department is strongly recommending — not mandating — people wear masks in public.

Blake said even without factoring in the unknowns, the county is reporting numbers that would put it back in the most restrictive tier previously used to mandate business closures and limit capacity for in-person operations.

According to the COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 140 deaths in the county attributed to the coronavirus.

Members of the Nevada County Public Health Department presented a bar graph during a Wednesday afternoon meeting. The recently reported PCR test results indicate that the region is above the threshold wherein the department characterizes the upward trend as a “surge.”

Trochet said indirect evidence from the region indicates the positive tests are most commonly related to sequences known as Ba.2.12.1, a new Omicron variant, “which seems to be rising overall in the area.”

“Certainly, the new variant is said to be more infectious than previous variants,” Trochet said. “Our behavior adds to spread of the disease.

“We’re more than two years into the pandemic,” Trochet said. “We know folks aren’t being as careful as they were. We are in a different place than we were a year ago and we have effective treatment and effective vaccines — the vaccines seem to be particularly effective if you have a booster.”

Trochet said property owners and building managers ought to consider proper ventilation — through HEPA filters and air exchanges — as another means of COVID-19 mitigation.

Blake celebrated the accessibility of free COVID-19 vaccines.

“Don’t hesitate to call My Turn, your pharmacy or health care providers,” Blake said. “If you have questions about the vaccine, don’t hesitate to reach out to my department.”

Public Health is at 530-265-1450.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at

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