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Statewide mask requirement to lift Tuesday

By Victoria Penate | Special to the Sun

Nevada County public health officials are reviewing data to determine if the local mask mandate should be lifted by Tuesday, when the statewide indoor mask requirement expires, according to county Director of Public Health Jill Blake.

The review comes after a slew of mandates were instated and rescinded over the last two years.

In August, Dr. Scott Kellermann, Nevada County’s public health officer at the time, issued a health order requiring individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while indoors in public settings and businesses, and an amendment the following week expanded the requirement to apply to “outdoors in crowded settings.” The county order has remained in effect since.



Four months after the Delta variant renewed fear of contagion, the state announced that it would be reinstating a universal indoor mask mandate as the Omicron variant increased in prevalence. As of this coming Tuesday, according to state guidance, universal masking will be required only in specified settings, and only unvaccinated people will be required to mask in all indoor public settings.

Asked in a Q&A Wednesday about the factors in consideration as the county determines whether to keep its local mask requirement in place, Nevada County Public Health Officer Dr. Sherilynn Cooke said officials are reviewing countywide COVID-19 data, including a rate of decline as well as positivity rate.



“And we would love to get in line with the state,” said Cooke. “And I think as soon as we feel like we can get in line, we’ll do so in lifting the mask mandate, but we’re taking a look at it literally every day.”

She stated that she did not have a “particular number” — a number of daily cases per 100,000 residents, for example.

“I think it’s going to depend on the curve, because it may get lower and then flatten out,” she explained. “We just don’t know yet.”

Blake wrote in an email Tuesday that Cooke as well as county Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet “are carefully reviewing our local data daily.”

While the county’s numbers in regards to COVID-19 are still high, said Blake, the county as of Tuesday had a lower case rate than the state — and was quickly “trending in the right direction.”

As of Wednesday, according to state data, Nevada County had an average daily case rate of 75.5 per 100,000 residents, while the statewide average was 84.

“Our public health officers are planning to see how our data develops over the next few days and are hopeful that our case rates will allow us to align with the state next week,” wrote Blake.

“Regardless of whether there is a mandate or not, I think people need to make their own risk assessment,” Trochet said in a Q&A Wednesday. “And if you still believe that you are safer wearing a mask, whether you’re vaccinated or not, we would support people wearing masks in public places regardless of vaccination status until we all feel safer and hopefully the rate has gone down significantly more than it is now.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com

Staff Writer Rebecca O’Neil contributed to this report

BY THE NUMBERS

NEVADA COUNTY

(As of Thursday morning)

Number of COVID-19 cases: 15,371

West county: 11,466

East county: 3,905

Number of active cases: 4,676

Number hospitalized: 31

Number of recoveries: 10,565 (up 8 from last week)

Number of deaths: 130 (five in the last week)

PLACER COUNTY

Number of COVID-19 cases: 60,573

Number of recoveries: 53,689

Number of deaths: 545 (14 in the last week)

As case investigations are conducted and more information is gathered, case counts may change or even decrease due to residents’ locations being confirmed in nearby counties. The number of laboratory tests reported to the Public Health Department is approximate


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