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Enjoy tree lightings this weekend, but doctor advises mask wearing indoors

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

Four communities are planning tree lightings this weekend, and Plumas County Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Satterfield is concerned — particularly when festivities move indoors. Chester, Portola and Quincy have community celebrations planned for Friday evening, Dec. 3, while Graeagle’s gathering is Saturday, Dec. 4.

Satterfield reminds all Plumas County residents that wearing a mask is currently required while in public indoor spaces. “I realize some people feel this is a nuisance and an intrusion on their liberties,” said Satterfield, “but COVID-19 cases are increasing again in many parts of our country, and we have the new Omicron variant to deal with. The last thing we need is another December surge in hospitalizations like we had last year.”

He pointed out that while many people experience mild symptoms when they contract COVID-19, some are hospitalized and there have been 16 deaths in the county thus far. “If you are between 35 and 50 years old and get COVID, your chances of dying from it are actually about one in 500 if you are not vaccinated,” he said. “That’s way too high.”

During an interview Nov. 30, Satterfield said that the four most important steps people can take are to: wear a mask; get vaccinated; get tested; and stay home when sick.

He is encouraging individuals to get tested this week — in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday when many people traveled — particularly in advance of this weekend’s community gatherings. That’s why he is emphasizing the mask wearing.

“When you are indoors at businesses downtown wear your mask – over both your mouth and your nose,” he said. “This is not punitive or silly. It is a common courtesy to your fellow citizens in this time of pandemic infection. There is good scientific evidence that masks prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Satterfield said that surgical doctors and nurses wear masks every day and they wouldn’t think of exposing their patients or themselves to the infections that masks can prevent. “Please let us as a community have the same good sense this weekend to help prevent renewed spread of COVID-19 in our various communities,” he said.

Satterfield said that there is a chance that mask mandates could go away after the first of the year, but only if case rates decline. “Plumas County still has a rate of 15 cases per 100,000, which needs to come down to about three to keep our schools and businesses safe for all,” he said. “Increasing vaccinations is the key to getting there.” He added that death from COVID-19 is 16 times less likely if an individual is vaccinated.



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