Red tier eludes Nevada County

Nevada County will remain in the purple/widespread tier of the state’s reopening blueprint for at least another two weeks.

According to state data, the county’s case rate and positivity rate fell again this week but not enough to lower its tier assessment, which has been purple/widespread for the last three months.

For the week of Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, Nevada County averaged 14 new cases per day and a 5.7% positivity rate, down from a case rate of 16.1 and 6.5% positivity last week.

The county needs to get down to fewer than seven new cases per day and no more than 8% positivity to reach the red tier, which would allow industries like restaurants, movie theaters and gyms to reopen indoors with limited capacity.

For the last four weeks the county’s positivity rate has been within the red tier — between 5% and 8% — but both risk level metrics must meet the criteria in order for the county to move up in tiers.

The county’s numbers have gone down over the last two months after reaching a peak of 54 new cases per day and 11% positivity mid-December, though the progress has been up and down and not as consistent as other parts of the state.

By the first week of January, the county improved to 24.2 new cases per day and 7.7% positivity, before climbing back up 30.2 and 8.5% over the following two weeks. In the three weeks that followed, case rates dropped to 20.8 new cases per day, then shot back up to 26.3, before falling back to 16.1.

Nearby counties like Placer and Sutter have had more steady declines in case and positivity rates since reaching their peaks in mid-January and mid-December, respectively.

Placer County averaged over 40 new cases per day for most of December before reaching a peak of 53 new cases per day in January. Since then it’s averaged eight fewer cases per day each week and is down to 12.7 now.

Following its mid-December peak of 98 new cases per day, Sutter County has averaged 7.5 fewer cases per day each week since and is now at 25.4.

Nevada County’s statistics have increased in the weeks following Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann warned that gatherings over the last two weekends — Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day — could derail the county’s measured progress. According to public health officials, social gatherings and workplace exposures continue to be the main driver of transmission.

The state’s next tier assessment will cover the week of Feb. 7 to 13, during which Nevada County reported 97 COVID-19 cases. It’s the first time the county has had fewer than 100 cases in a week since early November.

John Orona is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. To contact John, email or call 530-477-4229.

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