‘The way out of this pandemic’: County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann discusses new state guidance, Delta variant | TheUnion.com

‘The way out of this pandemic’: County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann discusses new state guidance, Delta variant

County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann said Wednesday that the Delta variant’s spread has “changed everything” in regards to the rising number of new COVID-19 cases reported, which has spurred the state to update its mask guidance.

The state Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that it was recommending mask use for indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updating its guidelines in response to the Delta variant’s spread.

“Under the CDC’s new guidance, more than 90% of California’s population is currently in areas designated as substantial or high transmission,” the state Department of Public Health’s news release stated Wednesday.

Nevada County is among the counties listed by the CDC as having a “high” level of transmission, based on data extending through Monday for case rate and through Sunday for percent positivity.

“We’ve got a lot of virus in our community,” said Kellermann. “And a way to stop this virus is through immunization or protection through masking.”

The county reported 69 new cases Tuesday, the highest number recorded in Nevada County in a single day since early February. Prior to last week, the daily new case count had not exceeded 30 since early May.

While “we were looking good a few weeks ago,” according to Kellermann, “You can graph them out together, the Delta variant and the number of cases.”


The state’s monthly update, which tracks various COVID-19 variants, shows the Delta variant as making up less than 6% of sequenced specimens as of May 21, just under 53% by June 21, and as of last Wednesday, nearly 83%.

According to state dashboards, California has gone from not surpassing 2,000 new cases on any day in June to recording between 2,000 and 7,144 cases each day from July 5 through Saturday. The dashboard warns, “data incomplete for recent dates,” beginning last Wednesday.

Kellermann noted that the trend is visible nationwide as well.

According to the CDC, the U.S. did not exceed 20,000 new cases reported on any given day in June — a threshold which was broken July 7. This was followed by daily new cases continuing to trend upward, leading up to the country reporting over 80,000 new cases Tuesday.

“It’s going to be difficult, because we have so many un-immunized people in the county,” said Kellermann, explaining that, among the eligible Nevada County residents who have not received a vaccine is a particularly vulnerable group — around 28.8% of residents 65 or older.

“The way out of this pandemic is through immunizations,“ said Kellermann, explaining that because the Delta variant is so contagious, a greater vaccination rate is needed for herd immunity.

As of Wednesday, 102,380 doses had been administered to Nevada County residents, according to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

The county closed the vaccine clinic at 1345 Whispering Pines Lane in Grass Valley, opening for a final day Tuesday after officials said the facility saw a marked decline in use beginning around May.

However, Nevada County residents seeking vaccines can find local providers, including medical offices, grocery stores, and pharmacies, listed on the “Get Vaccinated” page of the county website, as well as on myturn.ca.gov.

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

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