Nevada County Fair, local health officials recommend masks at fair
In a joint statement with the Nevada County Fair, local public health officials and other health leaders made new recommendations this week regarding this year’s fair, which is set to begin today, citing “a dangerous surge of COVID-19 infections, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.”
Nevada County reported 186 new cases Tuesday, setting a new highest number of cases reported in a single day this year. Since the county’s first recorded case in March 2020, the only day the county has recorded a higher number of new cases than Tuesday was Dec. 7, with 209 cases.
The recommendations included in Tuesday’s joint statement were that all who attend the fair, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask both indoors and outdoors, and that people 65 or older, those with compromised immune systems, and those with underlying health conditions consider not attending the fair this year.
Anyone in isolation due to having tested positive for COVID-19 or quarantining due to exposure to someone who has, the statement said, “must not attend the fair.”
In addition to Nevada County Fair CEO Patrick Eidman, signatories of the joint statement included Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital president and CEO Dr. Brian Evans; the county’s director of Public Health Jill Blake, Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann, Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet; Chapa-De Indian Health Medical Director Dr. Alinea Stevens, Sierra Family Health Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Van Houten, Western Sierra Medical Clinic Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ingrid Bauer, pediatrician Dr. Sarah Woerner, and YubaDocs Medical Director Dr. Roger Hicks.
“The Nevada County Fair has taken extraordinary measures to protect the health of all fair-goers,” stated the group. “We ask that exhibitors, vendors, and visitors do their part to prevent further COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths during this unprecedented time.”
Eidman wrote in an email Tuesday that — in addition to strongly recommending that all attendees wear masks — precautions at this year’s county fair will include making free masks available at all gates and exhibit halls; Butler Amusements regularly sanitizing the rides, offering hand sanitizer, and strongly encouraging mask use in the carnival area; and various distancing measures, including capping arena event ticket sales at 80% capacity, spacing out outdoor seating, and changing the placements of vendor booths and carnival area rides to prevent crowding and allow for more space between rides and games.
On the measures installed, Eidman said a new hand-washing station will be available for use at the end of Treat Street; that Evergreen Hall would be closed and floriculture and agriculture exhibits moved to the Northern Mines Building, which has better ventilation and airflow; and that upgraded HVAC filters had been installed in fairgrounds buildings.
Eidman also informed that Ponderosa Hall, the Northern Mines Building, and Tall Pines will be closing early, at 8 p.m., for the duration of the fair, and that DJs and dancing on the Dance Pad have been canceled.
This joint statement came a day after county public health officials said in a news release that Nevada County was experiencing “the largest surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic.”
In the release Monday, officials stated that “breakthrough cases” — cases of COVID-19 infections in people who are fully vaccinated — currently constitute approximately 20% of new weekly cases.
On breakthrough cases, Kellermann said Tuesday that hospitalization and serious injury were rare, specifying that these “are not filling up the hospital,” but rather that cases in those not immunized were leading to increased hospitalizations.
Speaking on COVID-19 in Nevada County, Kellermann said, “I would hope we could come together as a county to face it directly and look at it as a common problem, and put aside our differences and try to prevent this virus from spreading.”
Kellermann said Tuesday that measures such as closures of businesses and schools were not being considered at the county level.
“But there are some simple things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus, and number one by far is wearing a mask — of course hand-washing and distancing … isolate if you’re positive, quarantine if you’ve been exposed,” said Kellermann, explaining that these “basic public health measures” would help in overcoming the virus, and that he did not believe more “major” measures such as business closures were needed.
One COVID-19 death was recorded Monday, the first recorded in the county since April 6, bringing the county’s total recorded deaths to 76, according to the county’s Coronavirus Dashboard.
As of Tuesday, also according to the dashboard, there were 30 active hospitalizations. Asked last week about the recent increase in hospitalizations, Evans said the hospital’s peak number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had previously been around 15.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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