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Nevada County official: Small gatherings lead to virus spread

John Orona
Staff Writer

BY THE NUMBERS

NEVADA COUNTY

(As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday)

Number of COVID-19 cases: 503

Number in western county: 308

Number in eastern county: 195

Number of active cases: 31

Number hospitalized: 3

Number of recoveries: 467

Number of deaths: 5

Number tested: 18,556

As Nevada County surpasses 500 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, small, multi-family gatherings continue to be the driving force behind the coronavirus spread locally.

According to interim public health officer Dr. Richard Johnson, the majority of cases in Nevada County are originating from these gatherings, outpacing exposure from congregate living facilities, restaurants and bars, grocery stores, or outdoor recreation.

Although a proportional breakdown was not available, Johnson said transmission from congregate living facilities was the next leading cause of exposure. Of the four COVID-19 deaths in August, three were associated with elderly patients in western Nevada County assisted living facilities.

Adult residential care facility Atria Grass Valley was the only assisted living facility the state identified in the county with patient deaths or active cases among residents.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down. I know there’s been some pandemic fatigue but we can’t afford to let become lax.”— Dr. Richard Johnson, interim public health officer

While Nevada County’s case rate is slowing slightly, Johnson said residents need to continue to take personal responsibility for containing the spread.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down,” Johnson said. “I know there’s been some pandemic fatigue but we can’t afford to let become lax.”

According to state metrics, the county is on track to move from the “substantial” to “moderate” risk tier on the state’s reopening roadmap next Tuesday, with a positivity rate of 2% on about 170 tests per week. Moving to the next tier would allow nearly all retail businesses in the county to reopen indoor operations with modifications.

While more than 90% of the cases in the county are considered “recovered,” Johnson said the term could be misleading to the public as the status refers to whether a patient is still contagious, not whether they are showing symptoms of the disease.

“A better term might be ‘recovering,’ instead of recovered,” Johnson said. “Active cases are those that are within the first 10 days, which is typically how long they remain contagious.”

Johnson also warned that while long-term effects of the coronavirus are not well-understood, neurological and cardiovascular issues have been associated with “long-haulers” who have been battling the disease for weeks.

The unknown long-term risks and unreliability of potential antibodies should give pause to those who believe the disease is not serious or advocate for embracing herd immunity, Johnson said.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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