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Surge in COVID-19 cases expected to continue for weeks

Over the last month coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have continued to climb at an accelerated rate, and officials say the trend is likely to continue for the next couple of weeks.

According to County Public Health Director Jill Blake, gatherings and work environments are still the driving forces behind the surge in cases, with the expectation that Thanksgiving travel will only exacerbate those numbers in the coming days and weeks.

“Gatherings are still a significant driver, for sure, and the sectors where we’re seeing the most cases/outbreaks are health care (including skilled nursing facilities), food service, schools and daycare, and offices,” Blake said in an email. “The surge is likely to continue in the next two weeks due to people coming together at Thanksgiving.”



On Tuesday Nevada County’s case rate and positivity rate jumped to 27.5 and 7.7%, respectively, from 22.4 and 5.7% last week, already firmly meeting the criteria for the “widespread” tier.

According to state public health department data, 20 people were hospitalized this week, with the county’s hospitalization rate reaching a rolling average of 12 COVID-19 patients in the last two weeks.



Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week the spike in hospitalizations, particularly in the intensive care unit, could lead to further measures to slow the spread after travel advisories and curfew orders were announced in the last week. Nearly the entire state is already in the purple or “widespread” tier.

TRACING

The increase in cases across the state has led the county to prioritize its contact tracing efforts, focusing on more recent cases (diagnosed in the last six days), people working, living in or visiting congregate living facilities, and other high-density settings that pose a greater risk for transmission.

“If more than 14 days have elapsed since the specimen was collected, case investigation should generally not be pursued,” Blake said.

Because not everyone will receive the county’s contact tracing efforts, officials are urging people who test positive to take the initiative to inform those who they may have been in close contact with since infection.

“There is now a light at the end of the tunnel with recent news of vaccines for COVID-19, but with the current rate of community transmission, we ask that everyone continues to practice the precautions we’ve been talking about for months,” Blake said. “We are beginning to see the impacts of widespread transmission across the state in the statewide increases in hospitalizations and the rapid decrease in the availability of ICU beds, and as a result, the state has begun talking about the possibility of another stay-at-home order for California.”

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


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