Plumas responds to new COVID-19 guidelines
Life changed last week as local and state officials established new guidelines for community assembling, recommending that all events with 250 or more attendees be cancelled or postponed, and all other gatherings provide at least 6 feet of distance between attendees.
Then on Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out even more stringent guidelines: anyone 65 or over or with underlying health conditions should self quarantine; all bars, taverns, brew pubs and wineries should close; and all restaurants should serve at half capacity.
In response, Kevin Goss, chairman of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, said county officials would be meeting early this week to determine how to carry out those orders.
Organizations across Plumas County scrambled to respond with the Plumas Unified School District and Feather River College suspending out-of-county travel and more. Then both institutions closed schools and are moving to online and/or independent instruction. Fundraisers were canceled.
Following is some of the latest information. We are continuously updating our website plumasnews.com — simply click on the image “COVID-19 Plumas Update” and all of the stories will be posted in chronological order. Anyone with information that they want to include should send it to [email protected]
As of Monday, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19. There were six negative tests and three tests pending.
Plumas Unified School District
Plumas Unified School District announced last Thursday that schools would remain open, but all gatherings should be postponed or canceled at least through the end of March. Then on Monday morning, Superintendent Terry Oestreich announced that schools would be closed through spring break April 10. Her complete letter is printed on our website plumasnews.com.
March 16-18 would be designated as snow days, while March 19-April 3 would be due to the virus. An update on online and independent instruction options will be provided this week, as well as available food service.
“We are committed to working with Plumas County Teachers Association (PCTA) and Classified Schools Employees Association (CSEA) leadership as we consider options for online and independent study options to ensure the continuity of our students’ education,” she wrote.
All events such as assemblies, science fairs, sports banquets, carnivals, field trips and more are postponed indefinitely. All out-of-county travel for sporting and other events is also postponed. Sports teams will be playing against in-county opponents only.
Feather River College
Feather River College President Kevin Trutna announced Sunday that Feather River College would be moving to online classes beginning March 18.
He announced that dorms would remain open but the Eagle Perch (the college’s food service) would close immediately.
Spring break, which is scheduled for March 23-27, occurs the following week. Trutna said that any student who left the county during the break would need to be screened before returning to campus.
“An update will be made on or before March 24 as to the status for the remainder of the semester for on-campus classes,” Trutna said. “The situation is continuously changing and check the FRC app and website for the most recent information.”
As with the school district, non-essential travel outside of Plumas County has been suspended; exceptions must be approved by the President’s Office.
Spring break class field trips and FRC program visits to other schools outside of Plumas County have been cancelled in the next few weeks and the Community College Association has suspended all athletic contests statewide indefinitely.
Criminal Justice System
District Attorney David Hollister said that his office working with the court and defense bar concerning upcoming trials, particularly those trials that require a large jury panel.
“We are mindful of the health concerns and issues related to having 100 prospective jurors in our courtroom for a number of hours,” Hollister said. “I have full confidence our Superior Court will make appropriate, timely decisions on the calendaring of jury trials.”
Hollister added that they are working to comply with a defendant’s right to a speedy trial while assuring the public is protected and justice is served.
The chief justice can authorize courts to hold sessions anywhere in their home county, to transfer civil cases to another location within 100 miles of the county, to declare a “holiday” for the purpose of calculating certain filing deadlines and to extend the time in which a criminal trial must be held.
Hollister said that his office is also working with Superior Court and Sheriff Todd Johns’ office (especially Jail Commander Chad Hermann to establish a video-based approach for appearances by an in-custody defendant in the event health issues prevent bringing an inmate from the correctional facility to court for an appearance.”
“This continues to be a very fluid situation,” Hollister said. “I am grateful for the leadership of Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff as well as Presiding Judge Janet Hilde. We continue to utilize our excellent lines of communication and we are all working very hard to stay ahead of this issue so as to minimize disruption to the criminal justice system.”
Plumas County Board of Supervisors
At this newspaper went to press, the board has made no changes to its meetings which are held at 10 a.m. on the first three Tuesdays of each month in the third floor board room of the courthouse.
The American Valley Community Services District AVCSD’s legal representative encouraged staff and directors to develop a plan to operate in the midst of this health situation. Attorney Josh Nelson noted that this is a service that can’t be shut down and a new policy for staff leave should be developed in the event someone should be diagnosed with or quarantined by the virus.
Nelson recommended that staff work with the health department and suggested obtaining heavy-duty masks for water and sewer operators or something else depending on recommendations from PCPHA.
“The facility must be operated in a safe and healthy manner,” Nelson said.
The Plumas Sierra Electric Cooperative has temporarily closed its lobby to limit person-to-person contact.
“The health and safety of our members and employees is our priority,” the utility announced.
All services are available on its website,www.psrec.coop, the SmartHub app or by calling the office at 832-4261.
Seneca Healthcare District
Seneca is back on isolation as of 4 p.m. No family member or person can visit long term care patients unless the resident is at end of life.
Leonard’s Market in Portola and Safeway in Quincy have both announced some of the steps that they are taking to keep their employees and customers safe, including enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitizer to customers.
They are also asking customers to limit the number of cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, and cold and flu medications that are purchased to ensure an ample supply for everyone.
The Feather River College Foundation announced that the Star Follies will be postponed and Roxanne Valladao, executive director of Plumas Arts said a Taste of Plumas has been canceled and it’s unknown if the event will be rescheduled. All those who have purchased tickets will receive a refund.
Valladao said that attendance was scarce for the most recent Words & Music and at the theatre, where extra cleaning has been ordered.
The annual Cowboy Poetry event at the Sierra Valley Grange has been canceled.
Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff announced that senior nutrition would revert to home delivery.
Quincy Community Supper
The Quincy Community Suppers will be canceled for the next three weeks: March 18 and 25, and April 1, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the local and state health agencies.
“We think it’s the best thing to do at this time,” said organizer Angela Elliott. “This is temporary; we are trying to figure it out.”
The popular community supper is held every Wednesday and is hosted by various community groups.