‘Still recommending precautions’: Officials discuss COVID-19 cases, local mandates, Halloween guidance
Special to the Sierra Sun
Last week, Nevada County recorded 155 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest weekly case count since July.
“So, we are celebrating that,” said Nevada County Public Health Director Jill Blake in a Q&A Wednesday. “I think, with the number of weeks where we see the cases continue to decline, I think we can officially call that a trend.”
Blake said, however, that the county’s case rate remains high enough to have previously fallen into the most restrictive tier of the now-lifted Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and that Nevada County is still ranked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a “high” level of community transmission.
“So, while we want to celebrate the lower case count, we also want to remind people that we’re still recommending precautions, because people are still getting sick, people are still being hospitalized, and we are still reporting, very sadly, new deaths,” said Blake.
REGULAR REEVALUATION OF MANDATES
On the county’s mandates regarding masking and event capacity, county Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann said Wednesday, “Basically, we reevaluate these mandates on a regular basis, even a daily basis.”
The factors weighed include not only the county’s case rate, but its test positivity rate, impact to hospitals, and how schools are managing things like testing, case follow-up, and reporting, Kellermann explained.
Going over some of these factors, Kellermann stated the county’s latest daily case rate per 100,000 residents was 14.8.
“If we’re above 10 (cases) per 100,000, it means we’re firmly in the previous purple tier, which means we have a lot of virus circulating in our community,” he said.
The statewide daily case rate per 100,000 residents (using a seven-day average) was 11.8 as of Wednesday, according to state data.
The county’s test positivity rate as of Wednesday, Kellermann added, was 5.9%, over double the statewide positivity rate of 2.1%.
He said hospitals in the county seemed to be “doing better,” and were less impacted. According to state data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, Nevada County had seven positive patients as of Wednesday. According to the state dashboard, that number has stayed below 10 since Oct. 6, after it had not dropped below 10 since late July.
Kellermann said county public health mandates will be modified when those currently in place are not necessary. However, the amount of virus still circulating in the community is at a level that would need to be “substantially lower” before the mandates would be changed, he said.
On Halloween approaching, Kellermann said that the virus is passed “mainly indoors,” and said gatherings should take place outdoors if weather permits, as should passing out treats.
He encouraged the usual COVID-19 mitigation guidelines: avoiding indoor gatherings, trying to maintain a 6-foot distance, and wearing a mask.
“Last year, we were strongly discouraging trick-or-treating — this year, not so much,” said Dr. Glennah Trochet, the county’s deputy public health officer, explaining that more is known about the virus now, after people have lived with it for over a year.
Outdoors is safer than indoors, Trochet said on trick-or-treating, later adding that the same principle applies to parties. On indoor gatherings, she said masking is required regardless of vaccination status, and that people should be wearing a mask unless eating or drinking.
“There are lots of ways that you can be safer and still have fun at Halloween,” said Trochet.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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