By Debra Moore
Plumas District Hospital announced yesterday that “a Quincy resident and contact of Monday’s COVID-19 case has also tested positive.”
That notice was released just minutes after Plumas County Public Health announced the sixth positive case, linking it to the June 15 case involving an Eastern Plumas County resident. The health agency’s release did not specify where the sixth individual resided, although the hospital shared that information.
When asked for more specifics about the sixth case — such as if it were a household spread or linked to a gathering — Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff declined to provide more information citing patient privacy, but did say that there had been multiple exposures that were being traced and investigated. Since the newest confirmed case was related to the Eastern Plumas case, one could have assumed that the second case was also in Eastern Plumas, as were the county’s first two confirmed cases back in early April. But that assumption would have been wrong and was confirmed when Plumas District Hospital made its announcement yesterday. As of today, Public Health said it doesn’t share that information.
But with Plumas County’s other confirmed cases, Public Health did share that information — revealing that the first two were from Eastern Plumas, one from Indian Valley and one from the Lake Almanor area. It also revealed the location of the fifth case as being from Eastern Plumas, so when asked why the sixth case was not shared, Woodruff explained that each investigation is handled differently.
Editor’s note: The lack of more specific information has been frustrating. Plumas News recognizes the need for patient privacy, but thinks personal privacy can be protected while still sharing pertinent information with the community. This is a pandemic that abruptly altered all of our lives. Any information that can be shared to mitigate further devastation should be considered.
Public Health wants residents and visitors alike to take safety measures — social distancing, face mask use and proper sanitation — and one way to achieve that cooperation is by demonstrating that a threat exists. It’s easier to brush off information when it’s too vague, but when it’s in a person’s own community, it suddenly becomes more real. The same is true for other information.
Many jurisdictions are releasing not only the location of confirmed cases, but demographic information such as age and gender, as well as origin of the spread, i.e. was it a family gathering, or a party, or a trip out of the county? Again, the greater the degree of specificity, the more the public can evaluate the risks associated with various activities and behaviors.
We understand also that the health agency wants to avoid causing panic, but the lack of information is more likely to lead to that result. In the absence of facts, rumors abound. This is an instance when as much transparency as possible is needed.
Public Health has done an admirable job of leading the county through this unprecedented time in recent history. This is new territory for everyone and we urge our officials to consider sharing what could be lifesaving information with the public whenever possible.