By Debra Moore
As case numbers continue to increase in Plumas County, residents are clamoring to know where they are coming from and how they are spreading. Such information has been sparse, but today Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff shared some details during the Board of Supervisors Dec. 8 meeting, specifically with regard to clusters of cases.
Of note, one game night at a local restaurant led to 11 cases; a Halloween party led to 18 cases; and a family gathering led to 10 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a cluster in a non-healthcare setting as two or more cases of the same disease occurring in one location within 14 days. Woodruff presented a report that outlines known clusters of confirmed Covid-19 cases associated with restaurants, bars, gyms, family gatherings and workplaces in the county.
A significant cluster (ultimately 11 cases) of Covid-19 developed when friends gathered for a game night at a local restaurant. Six participants subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. Three other individuals who were contacts of cases, but not part of the gathering, also tested positive, bringing the number of directly-linked Covid-19 cases to nine. In addition, two restaurant customers who ate there during the same time period, but did not participate in the game-night gathering and are not known to have close contact with the other cases, also developed Covid-19, resulting in the total of 11 cases.
Two other clusters, each with two at least two Covid-19 cases in two different restaurants, have recently been identified and are currently under investigation.
A possible cluster of at least three Covid-19 cases who visited a local bar is currently under investigation.
No clusters associated with gyms in Plumas County have been identified. Two individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 reported having visited gyms, but those cases were not linked based on the timeline.
Family gathering to workplace
A cluster that began with a family gathering (in Greenville) and then spread to a workplace in another part of the county (Quincy), eventually resulted in 10 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Five people, that included an infected individual from outside Plumas County (Reno), developed Covid-19 following the gathering. A co-worker of one of the cases who did not attend the gathering also developed Covid-19, as did two other co-workers of that person and two of their family members. This cluster caused significant disruption to an important Plumas County workplace (Superior Court clerks office). (While Woodruff’s report didn’t include specific locations, that information is known as a result of the family sharing their story with Plumas News.)
A cluster of 18 Covid-19 cases developed from three individuals who attended the same Halloween party and then transmitted the infection to 15 of their close contacts, mostly family members.
A cluster that began with two Covid-19 cases in the same workplace spread to five other co-workers and nine of their close contacts and family members, producing 16 Covid-19 cases in total. This cluster is still under investigation and may become larger.
Woodruff told the supervisors said he was sharing the information to alert people as to why stay-at-home orders are helpful. By eliminating opportunities for people to gather, particularly indoors, it’s hoped that the rapid increase in cases will decline.
At stake is the ability to care for sick patients — not only COVID, but those who suffer a stroke, heart attack, or are involved in an accident that produces trauma.
“The intention is that it is short and significant,” Woodruff said of the stay-at-home order — enough not to overwhelm hospitals.” Already Eastern Plumas cared for two COVID patients in its own hospital, because there were no beds available in Reno.
Mark Satterfield, the county’s public health officer, echoed Woodruff’s remarks. “ICUs across the region are getting overwhelmed already. They’re all at the breaking point.”
It’s thought that Plumas, which is part of the Greater Sacramento Region, could receive the stay-at-home directive later this week or maybe sometime next week. An ICU capacity of 15 percent triggers the order; and as of today, it’s at 18.8 percent. Once the order goes into effect, it will remain in place for a minimum of three weeks.
In the meantime Satterfield said that local hospitals and Public Health are doing all that they can to prepare to treat COVID patients locally. In addition to consulting with those who have more experience treating COVID, the county and hospitals have been acquiring medications and equipment, and increasing bed capacity.