Virus case surge has Tahoe communities sliding backward | SierraSun.com
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Virus case surge has Tahoe communities sliding backward

Cheyanne Neuffer
Special to the Sierra Sun

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — As predicted by health officials, fall has led to an increase in COVID-19 cases around the nation, including Lake Tahoe.

While El Dorado County is still in the orange tier, the possibility to move into the less restrictive yellow tier would have been this week, but the county didn’t move. With the surge in cases, the county is more in danger of sliding backward. The county has remained around a 2% positivity rate but is higher lately.

“We expect that the next announcement of tiers will keep us in the orange tier, however, our case per 100,000 has us approaching the red tier (3.9/100,000 is the top of the orange tier) and that is the only metric where we are on the edge,” said Carla Hass, county director of communications and outreach in an email.

Lake Tahoe Community College is the only state-sponsored site in the Tahoe area to get COVID-19 testing.

As the seasons change the risk for COVID-19 is getting greater due to more people being indoors together. Similarly to other counties since the cold shift, positive cases have increased.

“With the cooler weather preventing people from doing things outside as we’ve been able to do with the warmer temperatures, people will likely gather inside more frequently,” Hass said. “The virus doesn’t disperse as easily and quickly indoors as outdoors, so with that in mind, and the ‘holiday season’ which started with Halloween, we won’t be surprised to see an increase in cases. That said, people can still do things safely indoors if they take the precautions of masking, staying at least six feet from others, and refraining from getting together with a lot of people outside their household.”

El Dorado County has reported 71 new cases from last Saturday through Wednesday, an average of about 14 per day. Of those cases, 25 are in the Tahoe region. The Tahoe region has slipped back into the orange rate of spread, (case rate per 100,000 population over the previous 14 days of 100 or greater). There are two residents hospitalized including two in intensive care.

El Dorado County hasn’t quite seen the same dramatic increase in cases as in counties like Wahoe in Nevada.

On Oct. 30, The city of Reno urged people to stay at home with the exception of leaving the home for work, to vote, to see a doctor, to obtain medicine from a pharmacy or to get groceries.

The Truckee Meadows COVID risk meter moved to the red, ‘very high’ section and is inching towards the severe status.

Washoe County also lowered group limits back to 50 due to their 10.8% positivity rate. Washoe County released a press release on Tuesday reporting an additional COVID-19-related death in Washoe County: A male in his 50s with underlying health conditions. There have been 201 COVID-19-related deaths in Washoe County.

Douglas County has joined the list of, now, 10 Nevada counties flagged for increased risk of virus transmission. A second virus-related death was also reported on Wednesday.

Douglas is above the permissible 200 cases per 100,000 people over the last 30 days — 294 — and the 8% maximum positivity. At 10.5% positivity, Douglas is one of seven Nevada counties in double digits.

The number of active cases had been subsiding until Wednesday when it increased to 29 active cases and 414 recoveries.

After a major peak in late July, Placer County on Tahoe’s West and North shores had been on a downwards trend until late September when cases started to climb again.

Placer is currently at a 3.5% positivity rate. Placer County’s Tahoe City and Kings Beach are colored in the dark blue section of the map meaning they are still noting 70 or more cases per 10,000 people which is the highest percentage of the case rates. The majority of cases reported are from the 18-49 age group.

Alpine County has seen a significant recent increase in COVID-19 cases. “Alpine County has been cruising along with 3 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic – until this last week. We are now at 16 cases and counting, with 13 new cases in the last 7 days,” said a press release from Alpine County on Nov. 2.

Alpine County is recommending that if people do not have any symptoms, but would like to get tested to utilize drive through testing centers in Bear Valley, Kirkwood, and Woodfords.

Cheyanne Neuffer is a Staff Writer with the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She can be reached at cneuffer@tahoedailytribune.com


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