Could Plumas move to the orange tier soon?

By Debra Moore

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A new color could be in Plumas County’s coronavirus future — orange. That would be a welcome change for local businesses that have been operating under at the first purple, and then the red mandates.

The colors represent the four tiers outlined by the state ranging from purple to yellow, and their accompanying rules for operation during coronavirus.

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“We met the orange tier (numbers related to positive cases) last week,” Woodruff said told the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on March 2, and said he anticipated that the county could move to the orange tier next week.

For restaurant owners, moving from red to orange means that indoor dining capacity would increase from the current 25 percent allowed, to 50 percent capacity. (The graphics below outline the guidelines for various sectors.)

“It’s looking really good for Plumas County right now,” Woodruff said of the declining case rate.

Testing

The state-sponsored coronavirus testing continues, as does the testing available by the local healthcare districts. The state-sponsored tests are held on Saturdays — this month the events will be held the first and third Saturdays in Portola, the second Saturday in Greenville and the fourth in Chester.

“We continue to have enough robust testing,” Woodruff said, with the result being a low test-positivity rate, which helps the county move through the tiers.

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Vaccines

Roughly 15 percent of Plumas County’s population has received one dose.

Woodruff said he knows the public demand is there because Public Health is averaging 160 phone calls a day to the vaccine line. One day it topped out at just under 300 calls. He described it as a “good problem to have” — that people are eager to receive the vaccine.

Happily for those who want to be vaccinated, the supply is increasing with the county now receiving between 400 and 900 doses a week. Woodruff is optimistic that with the addition of Johnson & Johnson, those numbers will go up. He said that based on state projections, the weekly allocation could increase by a third.

The county is continuing to vaccinate the 65-plus age group, along with sectors (educators, food and ag, and emergency responders) with roughly 70 percent of the allocation going to the age group, and the remaining 30 percent to the sectors. Woodruff is hopeful that this group will be completed by the end of March.

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Individuals also have the option of going out-of-county to get vaccinated. The federal government is using pharmacies and mass vaccination events to distribute doses. As long as individuals meet the tier criteria, they can schedule an appointment. Some Eastern Plumas residents have received their vaccines in Reno for example.

Plumas County Health Officer Dr. Mark Satterfield addressed the effectiveness of the vaccines, but also stressed the need to continue with mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing. He said the vaccines are 95 percent effective in protecting individuals from contracting the virus, and reduces the severity if someone does contract COVID, but it’s “not absolute.”

“We are on the 10-yard line; let’s not fumble the ball,” he said.

What is allowed in the Moderate Orange Tier 3: