Plumas heading to orange; Health director provides update

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

It’s expected that Plumas County will be placed into the orange tier based on its recent coronavirus cases, and there’s a chance that the numbers could land the county in the purple tier next week.

That’s the worst-case prediction that Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff made to the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 3. “This is a fairly serious update,” Woodruff told the supervisors.

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Typically, the state announces the latest tier rankings on Tuesdays at noon, but due to Election Day, the official announcement is delayed until today, Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Woodruff said that the county is mirroring what is happening across the nation as cases rise. “The trend is being seen in almost every state,” he said.

Nationally, the last 14 days has seen a 44 percent increase in cases and a 13 percent increase in deaths. California has seen a 34 percent increase in cases.

“Plumas County has seen a devastating increase,” Woodruff said. From Oct. 18 to Oct. 31 the county realized 37 percent of the cases it has seen since the onset of the virus.

Woodruff said that the number of cases from Oct. 11-17 is enough to put the county into the orange zone; but the number of cases from Oct. 18-24, indicates purple, as does the following week. The state operates under a one week delay, which is why Plumas would move to orange today, but could move to purple (the most restrictive tier) next week. “I will let you know,” Woodruff told the board. (See what that means in the charts below.)

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What COVID looks like locally

Woodruff shared some specifics about how COVID has impacted county residents.

The most common symptoms reported are cough, headache, muscle aches and a runny nose. Surprisingly, temperature is not often reported. (That’s true for the individuals that Plumas News has interviewed as well.)

There have been six hospitalizations to date. Of the 86 cases reported; 17 remain active. (There were no new cases or recoveries reported Nov. 3. )

Woodruff said that 40 percent of cases were uncovered through contact by a known case and 27 percent due to a clinical reason. He stressed the importance of contact tracing in finding cases.

As for how individuals contract the virus, it breaks down in the following manner:

  • Congregate setting such as a nursing home, prison: 15 percent
  • Health care workers: 18 percent
  • Cared for a COVID patient: 9 percent
  • Attended a gathering: 26 percent
  • Traveled to an area impacted by COVID: 17 percent

Woodruff said that COVID spreads through families. “The pattern that we see over and over again is passing the virus in a household,” he said.

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Looking toward the holidays he is encouraging people to minimize mixing of households and to rethink travel plans.

He said that behavior change is critical. “What’s really important to recognize is that people are done with COVID, but COVID’s not done with us.”

The county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Satterfield echoed the holiday concern. “We all love to get together but we do know it’s a high risk time.

Yellow to orange

One of the biggest changes from yellow to orange is that bars (unless they serve food) can only be open outdoors.

Sheriff Todd Johns asked Woodruff if there had been any cases tied to bars. Woodruff said he did not have that data as of the meeting, but could find it and would report back to the board.

In response to a question from Supervisor Jeff Engel, Woodruff said that testing information is available on the Public Health Agency’s website: https://www.plumascounty.us/2669/Novel-Coronavirus-2019-COVID-19. Testing is available at all three local hospitals. Plumas District Hospital offers testing every Tuesday and Thursday morning; details can be obtained at the website or by calling 530-283-2121.

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