Public Health Director provides vaccine update

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

Vaccine. Vaccine. Vaccine. “There continues to be not enough vaccine – that’s the number one challenge,” Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff told the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

To date 1,200 Plumas County residents have been vaccinated, which represents about 6.5 percent of the population. He told the supervisors that this week’s supply is devoted to second doses.


Yesterday, Plumas News spoke with the local hospitals to determine the amount of vaccine that each had received this week.

Michelle Romero, the infectious disease prevention specialist at Eastern Plumas Health Care, reported receiving 40 doses of the Moderna vaccine Feb. 1. The supply will be used to give a second dose to residents and employees at its skilled nursing facility in Portola. All of the residents and staff who wanted a vaccine at its Loyalton skilled nursing facility received their second dose last week. (Those doses came from the Lassen County allotment.)

Seneca reported receiving 30 doses. Spokeswoman Chelssa Outland said that the vaccines were earmarked for employees, and were expected to arrive at the hospital today.

JoDee Read, the CEO at Plumas District Hospital, said its allotment was also for second doses, with employees set to be vaccinated Feb. 3.

Looking toward next week, Woodruff said the county would be holding clinics for the 75-plus age group. He said that he knows there is keen interest. “We received 7,500 calls in 90 minutes the morning it was opened up to 75-plus,” he said.


Since then an information portal as been established on Public Health’s website so that people can sign up to be notified when it’s their turn to receive a vaccine. Woodruff said that his staff is coordinating with the three county hospitals (they also had established lists) to avoid duplications.

Supervisor Dwight Ceresola asked Woodruff when the county was going to take care of the people 65-plus.

“We get this question all the time … we are getting a lot of calls from the 65-plus group.” Woodruff said. “It’s dependent on amount of vaccine received.” He said they were prioritizing 75-plus “because it will save the most lives and prevent the most hospitalizations.”

Woodruff said the county was doing everything that it could to obtain more vaccine and applies for the maximum amount each week. He said that the state’s distribution of the vaccine is “proportionate to population distribution with some equity factors” such as age, poverty, ethnicity. He said that when he reviews the weekly allocations he compares Plumas to counties of similar size. “When we get a zero week, other counties of similar size will also have a zero week,” he said.


Woodruff reminded the board and the public that the “Vaccine is going to help us get out of this, but it’s not a silver bullet.” He said the public must continue to wear masks, stay home when possible, avoid social gatherings, etc.” He reminded people that the high circulation of the virus causes it to replicate and mutate, which could prolong the pandemic.


Woodruff also addressed testing within the county — at the local hospitals and in partnership with the state. A mass testing event was held Saturday, Jan. 30, in Chester with 26 individuals being tested. The prior Saturday in Portola, 81 were tested. Another testing event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 6, in Portola. Woodruff hopes that the testing will evolve so that on one Saturday, testing will be divided between Greenville and Chester, and then the alternating Saturday will see the availability split between Portola and Quincy. Plumas District Hospital in Quincy continues to be able to offer same- or next-day test results for those who are symptomatic or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.


The positivity rate for the county is 4.2 percent and is one of the factors used to determine what tier the county is in — which is currently purple. “Our testing level is really high,” Woodruff said. “Our hospital partners continue to do an amazing job.”

He said that the case rate remains too high to change tiers — it’s at 18 per 100,000, and needs to get below seven to change tiers (which is one to two cases per day). Woodruff said his office sent a letter to the state seeking some relief from the case rate regulation based on the county’s population.

“When we have a day with zero cases it feels really, really good,” Woodruff said.

Jail update

Sheriff Todd Johns presented an update on the jail. There are no current cases among inmates and the last staff member affected is set to return to work Feb. 3.