Nevada County moved into most severe COVID-19 tier |

Nevada County moved into most severe COVID-19 tier

Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Monday COVID-19 update that 40 of the state’s counties — including Nevada County — would be moving backward on the risk tier.

Nevada County is moving two tiers at once, from the orange to purple tier, or from “moderate” to “widespread.”

Business restrictions increase in severity depending on the tier. Purple is the most severe.

Newsom said these industry changes should be made “urgently.”

Beginning Monday, Newsom said, counties would be moving tiers after one week of meeting the criteria. Updates to tier classifications will also be given mid-week, rather than only on Tuesdays as had been done before this week.

He referred to this shift in protocol as an “emergency brake” with relation to the originally established tier protocol, noting at the beginning of his update that the current statewide increase in cases is “simply without precedent in California’s pandemic history.”

“We’ve made tremendous progress moving forward in modifying our status, meaning providing more flexibility pursuant to this Blueprint (for a Safer Economy), between late August and October,” he said. “We are now moving backward, not forward.”


While in the orange tier, Nevada County’s restaurants were permitted indoor seating at up to 50% capacity, and bars and breweries not providing food could open outdoors only. In the purple tier restaurants can only operate dine-in services outdoors, and bars and breweries not providing food must close.

Movie theaters, open at 50% indoor capacity in the orange tier, will be closed under the purple tier guidelines. Churches, capped at 50% capacity or 200 people indoors under the orange tier guidance, will be outdoors only.

Under the new guidelines, libraries can open with a 25% capacity.

However, following the announcement, the Nevada County Community Library announced in a release it will not be reopening the Truckee, Madelyn Helling and Grass Valley locations this week as previously planned due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the county. “The opening of these locations was dependent on Nevada County remaining in the ‘moderate’ orange tier … as well as maintaining the safety of staff and patrons,” county Librarian Nick Wilczek wrote in the release.


Asked about current availability in Nevada County’s testing sites, county administrative analyst Taylor Wolfe wrote in an email Monday, “As local cases have surged, we have seen appointments at our local OptumServe testing sites fill up.”

Wolfe wrote that the county recommends those who are not symptomatic and have not been knowingly exposed to the virus consider delaying their test so that those with symptoms or known exposure can be prioritized, and added that those in the latter group who have been tested should stay home and limit interactions in public places until they receive their results.


Schools, according to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy website, “that have already reopened if the county was in a less restrictive tier do not have to close” when the county is moved to the purple tier.

“However, if a school had not already reopened for in-person instruction, it may not reopen until the county moves back to the ‘substantial’ red tier for 14 days,” the site reads.

A letter emailed to The Union, apparently written Saturday by Clear Creek Elementary School District Superintendent/Principal Carolyn Cramer, states that she received communication that afternoon confirming a Clear Creek eighth grader had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking the eighth grade class to quarantine at home for 14 days,” read the letter, adding that these students would be transitioning to distance learning during this period.

The district, the letter said, had communicated with Nevada County Public Health, and provided a quarantine schedule informing that eighth grade students who do not develop symptoms will have completed their quarantine Nov. 24, just before a no-school day, and will return to on-campus instruction Nov. 30.

Cramer couldn’t be reached Monday for comment.

A teacher at Nevada Union High School, last on-campus Nov. 6, tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Brett McFadden confirmed Monday.

Per Nevada County Public Health protocol, anyone identified as having been a close contact of the positive-testing individual will be contacted, a process McFadden confirmed was underway as of Monday afternoon. On campus, any areas where the individual had been were sanitized.

This is the fourth staff or student case of COVID-19 confirmed by the Nevada Joint Union High School District since the district began hybrid instruction.

Together, these two cases mark the eighth and ninth confirmed cases at Nevada County schools in the last two weeks, impacting six of the county’s nine public school districts.

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

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