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The heroes among us

Local healthcare providers, county officials, and everyday citizens step up to fight COVID

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds across the country, it’s clear that it’s going to be up to all of us to escape this pandemic as unscathed as possible.

Let’s forget what’s happening at the federal level for a moment, even at the state, and look at what’s happening right here in Plumas County. We have a lot to be proud of and to give us hope.

First, it starts with Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff and his team. He was quick to recognize the magnitude of the problem and set up an emergency operations center where members meet at least daily, usually more, to plan for a possible local outbreak. The team includes various employees from health and human services as well as representatives from throughout county government.

Employees have been drafted away from their primary duties to address specific issues related to COVID. In turn, the team works closely with the county’s three hospitals as they seek to identify resources and develop collaborative plans. The hospitals and their clinics have also adapted by changing their daily way of doing business to care for their patients without exposing them or others to undue risk. We have outlined some of those changes elsewhere in this newspaper.

If and when there is an identified positive case of coronavirus in Plumas, a team has been established to trace that person’s contacts, and then test and isolate those people as well.

While all of this is going on at the leadership level, it’s up to all of us to do our parts; to practice social distancing as the norm and self isolation if we have returned from a high risk area, such as New York, the Bay Area, or a growing list of places where the virus is rapidly spreading.

According to leadership, most people are doing a good job of this. But as usual, there are some who won’t comply and other jurisdictions are increasingly using fines or other punitive measures to enhance cooperation.

This applies to businesses as well. Recently two bars continued to be open, despite repeated warnings and visits from law enforcement. We want to acknowledge the work of District Attorney David Hollister and Sheriff Todd Johns in persuading those two entities that their closure was ultimately for their own good as well as that of the community.

Other businesses are doing whatever they can to keep a revenue stream going so that their doors can stay open and perhaps retain some employees. It’s not easy. Some will probably need to take out loans that they can ill afford, and others may not be able to weather the loss of income. We are nearing summer, when many local businesses earn the bulk of their revenue, but this year will be different. Officials foresee the possibility of some easing of restrictions, but it’s doubtful that large celebrations will be held.

We in Plumas County have had the luxury of time and the advantage of seeing what happens when social distancing isn’t followed. Case in point: New Orleans. Its mayor is saying that if she had known then what she knows now about the extreme contagiousness of this virus, she would have halted the festivities. We can apply that hard-learned lesson here and avoid congregating.

Practicing social distancing is the best action that we can take to do our part to stop the spread of this disease, but some people are doing more. Some are making facemasks like the Crazy Quilters and the Chester Piecemakers. And while the medical community has varying responses to homemade facemasks, they could certainly be a backup plan for non-medical personnel. Volunteers in the Chester area have established a shopping service for the vulnerable population — the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions.

We are sure there are even more examples of community members pulling together to help each other while adhering to necessary guidelines. We will get through this and we want to commend all those who are going to make that happen.

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