County sees increased COVID-19 community transmission, deaths |

County sees increased COVID-19 community transmission, deaths

While Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital has not been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients at this point, it is part of a system which has seen dramatically increased numbers over the last month, said Dr. Brian Evans.

“In the Sacramento division of Dignity Health, which includes (Sierra Nevada Memorial) as well as five other hospitals, we’ve seen the numbers go up very dramatically over the last month or so,” said Evans, president and CEO of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

In that six-hospital division, according to Evans, there were between 30 and 40 admitted COVID-19 patients around a month ago, and as of Wednesday there were over 150.

Asked about Nevada County’s inclusion in the Greater Sacramento region for the purposes of the regional stay-at-home order, which went into effect this week, as regional ICU bed capacity fell below 15%, he said it makes sense from the perspective of hospital collaboration.

“If the ICUs in all the other hospitals in the Sacramento area are full, and we can’t transfer our patients — whether it’s a COVID issue or not — that impacts us,” said Evans.

“We need their capacity as well,” he said, explaining that it is common for Sierra Nevada Memorial to transfer patients to other, often larger hospitals for ICU care, cardiac surgery, brain surgery, and other procedures.


Nevada County began December with a total of 10 COVID-19 deaths, and as of Thursday, according to the county Coronavirus Dashboard, 11 more people have died, bringing the total to 21.

Asked about the recent deaths, Nevada County administrative analyst Taylor Wolfe said, “We have increased community transmission, and that statistic really speaks to that.”

She said elderly individuals, some of whom were residents of local skilled nursing facilities, are the primary demographic represented in the recent deaths.

If all groups in the community are contracting the virus more, she said, there is increased risk to the most vulnerable groups, including elderly individuals and people with pre-existing conditions.

As of Thursday, according to the county Coronavirus Dashboard, 528 of the county’s 1,922 total confirmed cases are active, over 27%.

The dashboard shows that the Nevada County zip codes with the highest volumes of COVID-19 cases are in 96161, in eastern county, with 559; in western county, the 95959 zip code with 217; 95945 with 467; and 95949 with 290.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at


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