Data regarding COVID hospitalizations and vaccination status

Do you wonder how many of Plumas County’s hospitalized COVID patients have been vaccinated — Plumas News knows that some of you do — because you ask us.

While many jurisdictions freely disseminate that information — neighboring Enloe Medical Center for example — local health authorities worry that releasing that data would jeopardize patient privacy.

“We are in the process of updating and improving the information we report on hospitalizations,” said Public Health Director Dana Loomis in response to Plumas News’ latest attempt to provide more detailed data to our readers.  “However, we don’t anticipate being able to provide the level of detail that Enloe does. Our communities are so small that there is a risk of what is called presumptive disclosure—being able to guess the identity of a person—if we gave a detailed breakdown of current patients.”

That’s also a concern that was articulated by Chelssa Outland, spokesperson for Seneca Healthcare District. As an example, she said that the hospital had one COVID patient recently, and if the vaccination status of that individual were to be revealed, then all who knew the individual was hospitalized would know that information.

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Public Health refers questioners to the state’s dashboard, which collates the data. However, it’s often not current, and when it is, it isn’t accurate. For example, on Aug. 30, the dashboard listed no current hospitalizations for Plumas County, but based on data provided by the local hospitals, there were six hospitalized on that day.

This situation — trying to provide more local information on the coronavirus — is not new; it’s been a challenge since the first cases appeared in Plumas County. Before today’s latest data was released, the county had reported 1,017 cases to date.

Vaccination clinics are held every Thursday from 9 to 11:15 a.m. at the Public Health Clinic in the Plumas County annex near Feather River College. Vaccines are also available at various local pharmacies including Rite Aid, Quincy Pharmacy, and Lassen Drug.

More information about COVID-19 in Plumas County can be found by calling the Public Health hotline at 283-6400 or by visiting its covid website here.

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