Nevada County misses out on moving up through COVID-19 tier system |

Nevada County misses out on moving up through COVID-19 tier system

On Tuesday the state updated its tiered county reopening blueprint and once again Nevada County remained in the moderate level.

Since moving up from its initial “substantial” listing last month, allowing some businesses to operate indoors at up to 50% capacity, the county has yet to advance again.

In order to meet the criteria to move up to the “minimal” tier, Nevada County must have a positivity rate — the total positive tests divided by total tests taken — of less than 1%; and a case rate — the seven-day average of confirmed cases adjusted per 100,000 population — of less than 2%.

Counties must remain in a tier for a minimum of three weeks and meet criteria for the next tier for two consecutive weeks before they can move up.

If moved to the minimal tier, bars, cardrooms, family entertainment centers, hotels and gyms will be able to increase indoor operation capacity.

As of Tuesday, the county had a 1.1% positivity rate and a 2.5% case rate, with an average of 281 tests conducted per day.

The data the state uses to measure case and positivity rates has about two weeks of lag time. For example, Nevada County’s most recent assessment is based on data from the week of Oct. 4-10.

According to Nevada County’s coronavirus dashboard, over the last three weeks of available data the county had 19 total cases the week of Oct. 4; 12 cases the previous week; and 27 the week before that. This led to respective positivity and case rates of 1.1% and 2.5%; 1% and 2.7%; and 0.7% and 1.3%.

While the total cases have not fluctuated much in the last few weeks, the biggest change week-to-week is the county’s testing rate, ranging from as high as 280 in the latest week of data used, to a low of 209 last month.

If the county is able to maintain its average daily cases at around 2 and keep a high testing rate, it could move to the minimal tier by election day.


According to county Human Resources director Steve Rose, the county is still in the recruitment phase to find a permanent replacement for its public health officer position that was left open after Dr. Ken Cutler resigned in July. Dr. Richard Johnson, who also serves as Alpine County public health officer, has filled the role in the interim.

“We’ve had several applicants and are working to offer the position to someone who has public health experience and who is a good fit for our team,” Rose said in an email. “Dr. Johnson has agreed to serve as our Interim Health Officer until we find such a fit, which we hope will be in the next month or so.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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