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Reporting lag could be cause of rising deaths

This weekend’s spike in COVID-19-related deaths may be partly explained by a lag in reporting Nevada County resident deaths when they occur out of county, officials said Tuesday.

Over the weekend Nevada County reported its highest increase in COVID-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic, with the 20 additional deaths bringing the total to 70.

According to county Public Information Officer Taylor Wolfe, part of the increase is related to state reporting logistics.



“While some are people who died locally, a large number are Nevada County residents who were transferred to out-of-county hospitals and passed away there,” Wolfe said in an email.

“Yesterday, the state reallocated these out-of-county deaths back to the deceased’s county of residence, resulting in a significant increase in COVID-related deaths of Nevada County residents.”




It is not clear over which time period they died or how often the state updates the count of residents who died from COVID-19 while out of county.

According to county Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann, the majority of deaths have still been associated with skilled nursing facilities.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause,” Kellermann said. “If we had an exact cause we could address it… but this is why it’s so important to push the vaccine out to them.”

According to the county coronavirus dashboard, all deceased have been over 60 years, with 52 deaths from people over 80 years old, 12 deaths from people in their 70s and six who were in their 60s.

The majority of cases and deaths have been concentrated in Grass Valley’s 95945 zip code, which has had 704 cases and 37 deaths as of Tuesday. No other area code has had more 10 or more deaths.

According to state data released Tuesday, the county has has slid back on risk level indicators that determine the county’s tier assignment, which is currently purple, or widespread.

On Tuesday the state lifted the Greater Sacramento region’s stay-at-order.

The county’s case rate rose to 28.9 new cases per day, after hitting a month-long low of 24.2 the previous week. The county’s positivity rate shot back up to 10.1% from 7.7% the previous week.

This week’s data covers the week beginning Dec. 27, the first glimpse into COVID-19 indicators post-holidays.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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