Nevada County institutions prep for COVID-19 | TheUnion.com
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Nevada County institutions prep for COVID-19

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Awareness and preparation to protect against the coronavirus, COVID-19, has ramped up recently.

After someone died Wednesday of COVID-19 in Placer County, state and local institutions have enhanced their response.

The same day, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, making the testing and tracking of people with the virus a top priority.

While there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Nevada County, the local government followed in step with the state, declaring a local health emergency and local emergency.

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The declarations, which will be considered for ratification next week by the Board of Supervisors, allow the county access to additional resources such as mutual aid, financial reimbursement and increased coordination with state and local partners.

Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay said in an email that he’s been in contact with the Nevada County Public Health Department every day as the situation evolves.

“At this time the health department is not calling for any closure of schools or restrictions of activities,” Lay said. “However, we are asking schools to look at field trips and reevaluate if necessary.”

Some Lake Wildwood residents have been lobbying the Grass Valley Charter School to prevent a school-sanctioned field trip to San Francisco from taking place next week due to fears of transmission.

County public health director Jill Blake said in an email that until an outbreak of COVID-19 is identified, each school district is responsible for how they want to move forward.

“Each school’s official will have the best sense of how to protect their students, either by implementing non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as social distancing), performing routine environmental cleaning, or temporary school dismissals,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control have made inquiries into schools enacting tele-schooling, but that wouldn’t be possible, according to Lay, considering the lack of internet access in Nevada County.

Earlier this week, Lay said he met with local superintendents and private school administrators, walking through the facts surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. Lay sent a letter Thursday to parents of students in the county encouraging them to rely on information they receive from local school leaders and local public health officials.

“We want to ensure that only accurate information about COVID-19 — particularly information about schools — circulates in our county,” the letter states. “Our goal is to be proactive rather than reactive and to promote healthy behaviors amongst our students and staff.”

Lay said the superintendent’s office is encouraging schools to engage in hygienic measures: Keeping door handles and desks clean; coughing into a tissue; and ensuring people don’t touch their own faces. Students and staff members should also keep their distance from people who are sick, especially those with a respiratory virus, according to the letter.

HOSPITAL RESPONSE

According to a Facebook message from Josh Morgan, Sierra College director of marketing and community relations, the Rocklin campus discovered that the Placer County resident who died from the coronavirus was on the same cruise as two of the school’s employees.

“Both of those employees returned to work at Sierra (College) for periods of time following the cruise, and following notification of potential exposure are now at home,” Morgan wrote. “The employees work in administrative offices on the Rocklin campus, not classrooms, and those in their departments have been notified.”

On Wednesday, the city of Rocklin said three of its fire department employees were quarantined after coming into contact with the elderly adult who’s since died from the virus. The employees had no symptoms as of Wednesday.

Like other local institutions, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital has also been in consistent communication with the Nevada County Health Department to stay up to date on the virus’ spread.

If they have suspicion that a hospital patient has the coronavirus, hospital chief medical officer Dr. Jeff Rosenburg said the hospital’s first step is to contact the Public Health Department and follow protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health.

If there is a patient suspected of having the virus, hospital staff takes precaution, donning an N95 respirator mask, face shield, gown and gloves, said Rosenburg.

The chief medical officer said the hospital is well-supplied, and noted that people over 80, and those with significant health issues, are included in the most at-risk populations.

“People should take precautions by trying not to touch their face or their eyes, maybe avoid things like hand-shaking and definitely use a lot of hand hygiene, which means washing your hands a lot,” said Rosenburg.

While airline travel is safe and not restricted, the Public Health Department told the hospital that if people don’t need to fly, it’s probably better they don’t, said Rosenburg.

More recently, the chief medical officer said a tent was erected outside the hospital to potentially “flex up” in case it receives an influx of patients with the coronavirus.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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