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Officials concerned about Nevada County COVID case plateau

Nevada County’s weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to decrease, although the state informed local officials last week that the decrease in cases was starting to plateau, according to county Director of Public Health Jill Blake.

Blake said in a Q&A Wednesday, “We’ll see if that continues or not, but the concern that was expressed is that it’s a higher plateau than where we plateaued last fall around this time.”

Ryan Gruver, the county’s director of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday that the county has been “trending consistently in the right direction” in terms of cases, recording 117 cases last week.



This amount is a new weekly low after Nevada County had an unprecedented surge in August and September, when it recorded over 400 cases per week for multiple weeks.

Gruver added that the county’s rates of test positivity and daily cases per 100,000 residents are also moving in the right direction, although the latter would still fall within the “purple,” or more restrictive, tier of the now-lifted Blueprint for a Safer Economy system.




As of Wednesday, according to the state’s dashboard for COVID-19 data, Nevada County has a seven-day average of 14.6 cases per 100,000 residents and test positivity rate of 6.7%.

In comparison, last year, the county’s case rate on Oct. 28 was 5.8, and its test positivity rate was 1.4%.

Dr. Scott Kellermann, the county’s public health officer, said Wednesday that there is still “a lot of virus in this community,” and that public health officials will continue to encourage masking, vaccination, and boosters for those who are eligible, as they want to see the case rate continue to go down.

“It has tended to plateau a little bit, like other counties in the state, but I think if we continue on the way we’re doing now, we’ll see a drop,” said Kellermann. “We just can’t take our eyes off the ball.”

Stating that Kellermann is “much more optimistic” than she is, county Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet said she fears there will be a winter surge as there was last year, and advocates for a “multi-layered” approach to precautions.

She said that vaccination “absolutely is important,“ but that so is masking when indoors or in crowded settings outdoors, continuing to maintain social distance, and in particular as various holidays approach, holding any gatherings safely and in small groups as opposed to large crowds.

“All that will help me be wrong about the surge, which I dearly hope I will be,” said Trochet.

TESTING

After the county’s Grass Valley COVID-19 testing site moved from opening every day to a Monday through Saturday schedule last week, which Blake explained was due to decreased use, she said Wednesday that last week’s utilization dropped even further.

It went from 58% the previous week to 42% last week, according to Blake. She added that the site’s schedule will likely have to be changed again if it continues to see a decrease.

She added that turnaround times for test results were “pretty great” as of Wednesday, with most people receiving results within 48 hours, and some receiving them within as little as 24 hours.

Trochet encouraged getting tested for the virus, in particular as we enter “the season” for upper-respiratory infections, and now that the turnaround time for test results at the Grass Valley testing site has quickened.

“And I would urge people, if you are sick and you’re wondering, go get tested,” said Trochet.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com


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