Public Health officials highlight COVID precautions at school sporting events
No reports of the Omicron variant have been made in Nevada County since the first case of the variant cropped up in San Francisco two weeks ago, though cases continue to ascend in Nevada County.
As of Wednesday, according to the state dashboard tracking COVID-19, Nevada County had a seven-day average of 17.1 daily new cases per 100,000 residents, while the average rate per 100,000 residents statewide was 10.9.
The county’s seven-day average test positivity rate as of Wednesday was 5.4%, according to the dashboard, while the statewide rate was 2.5%.
Nevada County reported 158 new COVID-19 cases over the last week — a 2% increase — bringing the total number of cases to 9,851.
According to the COVID-19 dashboard, 9,580 people have been released from isolation and 156 people had active cases. Since the Delta variant surge began in August, 40 people have died — two last week — bringing the total number of deaths in Nevada County since the pandemic began to 115.
Nevada County public health officials noted that the Delta variant resulted in a number of outbreaks out of local skilled nursing facilities since August. Still, public health officials maintain that those who received the vaccine between January and March were less affected by the the Delta variant of COVID-19 than they would have been without it.
Public Health Officer Scott Kellermann said a variant of the virus warrants concern given any one of three factors — being more transmissible, more virulent, or less responsive to existing treatments.
Discussing the variant, Nevada County Director of Health and Human Services Ryan Gruver said there are “a lot of unknowns at this point” surrounding the variant, including whether it will be transmissible enough to stick around and whether existing vaccines and treatments will be effective against it.
Nevada County administered approximately 3,933 vaccines over the last seven days, bringing the total number of doses delivered to 142,223.
Over the course of last week, 985 people in the county became completely vaccinated, bringing that number up to 59,302.
Kellermann encouraged vaccination for COVID-19, calling it “our primary defense” and adding that those who are eligible for a booster dose should get one.
Explaining the difference between cases in people who are vaccinated and those who are not, Kellermann said, “The viral loads initially can be very similar, particularly in the nose and mouth (and) the oropharynx, but they drop off quite appreciably in the vaccinated versus the unimmunized.”
He explained that this means someone who is vaccinated could contract the virus and experience initial symptoms shortly afterward, but that antibodies stimulated by immunization should then kick in to prevent illness from progressing further. This, he said, is why the two groups see significantly different rates of COVID-19 hospitalization.
School guidance from the state Department of Public Health updated last month stated that, if masks are not worn due to heavy exertion during sports-related activities such as practice, conditioning, or competition, it is “strongly recommended that individuals undergo screening testing at least once weekly.”
“We’re really happy the kids are back in school. We’re really happy they’re participating, and we certainly applaud all these activities,” said Kellermann. “But, in order to protect the kids, we’d like to see measures a little stricter than what the state is recommending.”
Kellermann stated Wednesday that it’s recommended that others present at youth sports events — including coaches, spectators, and those not actively playing — wear masks, and that all participants in youth sports also be vaccinated.
He added that, since teams often compete in other counties, his recommendation is that they follow the guidelines of whichever county has the stricter measures in place.
Nevada County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet said Wednesday that, going above what the new county health order requires, “best practice“ would be for all team members to be vaccinated for COVID-19, wear a mask, and be tested on the day of an event or game.
“But, we have been made aware that that is not feasible for most schools to be able to provide, particularly when there are so many sports going on,” said Trochet. “And that is why, if that best practice can’t be done, then the second best is the testing twice a week, two days apart, and that’s what the Health Officer order requires.”
Trochet clarified that the new order is only related to school activities, and that all previous orders — such as the requirement that people wear masks in public while indoors, or outdoors if distancing is not possible — remained in place.
PLACER COUNTY CASE UPDATE
As of Thursday morning, Placer County reported 573 new cases, a 2% increase in cases from the prior week.
There were 14 recorded deaths caused by COVID-19 in Placer County last week, bringing the death toll to 479.
Placer County has distributed 580,654 vaccines since their introduction. The number of fully vaccinated Placer County residents is now 246,079 people.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun and The Union, a sister publication of the Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Union Staff Writer Victoria Penate contributed to this report
Number of COVID-19 cases: 9,851
Number in western county: 7,708
Number in eastern county: 2,143
Number of active cases: 156
Number hospitalized: 10
Number of recoveries: 9,580
Number of deaths: 115 (two in the last week)
Number of COVID-19 cases: 38,971
Number of recoveries: 37,538
Number of deaths: 479 (14 in the last week)
Number tested negative: 668,792
As case investigations are conducted and more information is gathered, case counts may change or even decrease due to residents location being confirmed in nearby counties. The number of laboratory tests reported to the Public Health Department are approximate
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