By Debra Moore
District 1 Supervisor Dwight Ceresola usually doesn’t say much during the Plumas County Board of Supervisors meetings, but that wasn’t the case Sept. 21.
During Public Health Director Dana Loomis’ regularly scheduled coronavirus update to the board, Ceresola had a lot to say.
Loomis is a proponent of masking to stop the spread of coronavirus and vaccinating to stop the disease.
“We talk about the vaccine being the only way to get ahead of this,” Ceresola said, but said it’s a person’s right not to get the vaccine. He wants an alternative. “Why are we not putting out information about other means that may help?” he asked.
Ceresola said that people in the medical profession such as nurses, firefighters, police, and skilled nursing workers “won’t take the shot.” He worried that now some of them may lose their jobs because of some state and federal mandates. “These are people who were heroes 60 days ago,” he said.
Then his comments turned more personal as he discussed an adult daughter who is battling cancer and worries about the vaccine’s effect on her, as well as all children. “What happens to these kids? We don’t know,” he said. He also discussed his granddaughter who wants a career in the medical profession, but she doesn’t want the vaccine.
Ceresola reiterated his concerns about those in the medical profession and told Loomis, “You never talk about any other possible answer.” Then he asked, “Why aren’t they dealing with this before they get to the hospital?”
Loomis said that he understood the frustration and concerns.
Ceresola responded that they weren’t concerns; they were facts. “There are no beds available,” he said. “I don’t hear anything from the medical side to fix this.”
There were members of the public in the audience who shared Ceresola’s sentiments on vaccines, but seemed to be under the impression that the county was poised to adopt some sort of mandate. Janet Crane of Meadow Valley recommended that the supervisors not pass the “ordinance.” The former Plumas District Hospital employee said, “It’s our right what we do with our bodies.” She said that when she worked at PDH, she opted not to get a flu shot, which meant she had to wear a mask and that was a fine alternative.
Board Chairman Jeff Engel and District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss both assured her there was no ordinance on the agenda.
But that belief helped explain statements made by community member Rose Buzzetta earlier during public comment. “Where is the outrage?” she asked at the beginning of the meeting. “Let’s protect our people. That’s what you are here to do. If it’s too late to stop this mandate, so be it.”
She raised her voice as she implored the board to become less passive.” I would like to see some back and forth between you,” she said. She told the supervisors that they weren’t alone, that there were people who would help them and mentioned a group that met Friday nights in Crescent Mills, organized by Dan Kearns.
Taylorsville resident Dan Kearns, who developed a following while posting Facebook updates on the Dixie Fire and now holds the weekly meetings, called in and said, “I would like to remind everyone in the room especially the health agency director … there is the ability to do the will of the people. There is division and that’s not debatable.” He said it concerns him that public health officials are only projecting one side. He told the supervisors to do the will of both sides of the people.
After listening to a variety of comments Loomis said, “We could do a better job of providing health information,” but said that the agency can’t advocate for treatments that aren’t approved.
Loomis also explained how a vaccine works. The shot exposes the body to something that looks like the pathogen (in this case COVID-19), and the body develops an immune response. When it comes into contact with the real virus, it allows the body to develop an immune response.
California has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation and, as of Tuesday morning, had the lowest COVID case rate in the United States. Though that’s not true in Plumas, where the case rate is increasing.
Loomis discussed working with local schools officials to ensure that children can stay in the classroom. He said that transmission is not within the schools at this point, it’s from the outside. “I consider it a top priority to protect unvaccinated children,” he said.