Nevada County stays in purple tier |

Nevada County stays in purple tier

Nevada County once again took a step backward in its COVID-19 risk metrics after showing steady progress the previous three weeks.

After the county’s positivity rate fell low enough to meet the criteria for the orange/moderate tier last week at 3.5%, it bounced back up to 5.5% this week, falling within the red/substantial tier.

The county’s case rate, however, remained stagnant at 11.3 new cases per day, the same as the previous week and solidly within the purple tier — where the county currently sits.

In order to move down in tiers, both the county’s case rate and positivity rate must meet eligibility for the red tier — 8% or less positivity and 7 new cases per day or fewer — for two consecutive weeks.

Once in the red tier, businesses like gyms, movie theaters and restaurants can reopen indoor operations with limited capacity.

The latest assessment covers the week of Feb. 14-20, which had fewer COVID-19 cases — 97 compared to 75 — than the previous week, which had better metrics.

During that time, however, the county’s testing rate, a factor in calculating positivity rates, fell to about 286 per week from over 350 per week for the previous month. The statewide median per 100,000 residents was about 346 per week.

The county’s testing rate has been below the state median for each week since the beginning of the year.

Active cases have been declining rapidly, with the county recording 49 as of Tuesday. On Feb. 23 there were more than 350 active cases.

“Just a few weeks ago it was well over 500 cases, it was just an overwhelming number for us to try and tackle,” County Public Health Director Jill Blake told the Nevada City Council last week in a coronavirus update.

Last year, after the number of cases exploded in the fall, the county doubled its contact tracing capability, which gave it the ability to handle about 80 cases at time.

A surge of cases in November led the county to further prioritize tracing efforts to only the most recent cases and those with the highest risks.

Nearby El Dorado County was one of seven counties statewide that moved into the red tier this week. Placer County also had the stats to qualify for the red tier, and will be able to reopen further next week if its numbers hold up for a second consecutive week.

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

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