Public health director addresses supervisors on COVID-19

By Victoria Metcalf

Special to Plumas News

Plumas residents may find themselves in a more precarious position since outbreaks of coronavirus and COVID-19 now flank the county.

That was the message from Plumas Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, July 7, in what’s become his regular update.

The sudden spread of cases in Lassen County particularly in the prison system, and in Reno, leave Plumas County more vulnerable, according to Woodruff.

“We are surrounded and it is quite sobering and quite scary,” Woodruff told supervisors.

COVID-19 cases were relatively low until a transfer of inmates from San Quentin dramatically increased Lassen’s numbers, according to Woodruff’s information.

Lassen County reported 14 cases since the pandemic began, with its first case in late May. But by July 1, there were 214 cases at the California Correctional Center and another five cases at the prison just outside Susanville. The center is connected to High Desert Prison.

Another four cases were reported with staff from either the center or prison. Some of the staff lives in Plumas County, Woodruff explained. To meet testing demands, Lassen County officials have requested their own testing site.

Nevada has reported 24,378 COVID-19 cases with 556 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Looking at Washoe County, Woodruff said there were 3,260 cases as of July 7. That number increased to 3,328 just two days later (July 9). Since the pandemic began, Washoe County has recorded 1,073 active cases and 85 deaths, according to the Washoe County COVID-19 Impact Dashboard. “They’re skyrocketing over there,” Woodruff said.

These numbers are particularly important because of the number of Plumas residents who work in the Reno area. There is also a lot of traffic to and from Reno by Plumas residents who travel there.

Other considerations

Woodruff said the Plumas Public Health Agency’s education efforts continue. Efforts to keep the public safe, but allow some businesses to reopen are continuing, Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns told supervisors.

“We are doing everything that we can possibly do to keep us off this list,” explained District Attorney David Hollister, whom the sheriff invited to explain the process more fully.

What Hollister referred to was the number of counties that aren’t complying with state regulations concerning COVID-19 safety procedures. And the numbers of individual businesses that aren’t following regulations are another concern.

When the California Governor announced reopening possibilities last month, those counties and businesses that weren’t complying were put on the list Hollister referred to and not allowed to reopen unless conditions changed.

Counties not meeting expectations by the state, can expect such agencies as Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) to close bars and restaurants, Hollister said.

“That is a tactic the state is using,” Hollister explained.

An encouraging note is that Plumas County’s efforts have the full cooperation of local hospitals.

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