‘We can do better’: Nevada County could fall back into purple tier if its COVID-19 numbers don’t improve
California could get rid of its color coded tier system and lift most COVID-19 restrictions June 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.
According to Newsom, the vast majority of people who want vaccines will be able to get both doses by mid-June, two months after eligibility opens to all Californians 16 and older.
“We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic,” Newsom said in a release.
“We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
If the restrictions are lifted, businesses would be able to operate as normal but with “common-sense public health policies in place,” such as required masking and testing.
Newsom said the state will need to meet metrics in five categories to go forward with the reopening, but did not provide specifics.
He said the state would work with counties on those metrics, and that vaccine supply, vaccination rates, hospitalizations and whether vaccinated people are hospitalized would be factors.
According to Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency Director Ryan Gruver, the county is pushing for the state to continue providing resources to help meet those metrics.
“There needs to be resources in place to support counties to continue to contact trace and investigate, to test and to continue to administer vaccines even after the blueprint is lifted,” Gruver said. “Particularly in rural communities that don’t necessarily have the same level of health infrastructure as some of the more urban areas.”
Newsom’s announcement comes as 80% of the state’s population is now within the orange tier.
The county’s COVID-19 case and positivity rates both increased Tuesday, from 6.9 new cases per day to 12.7 and from 2.4% positivity to 4.3%. If the county’s case rate is not below 10 new cases per day next week, it will be moved back into the purple tier.
According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, it reported more than 100 new cases in the last week of March. In a release Tuesday county officials said a move back to the purple tier was “likely” April 13.
“This is disappointing, we were heading in the right direction,” said Dr. Scott Kellermann, the county’s public health officer.
According to Kellermann, in recent weeks the average age of those contracting COVID-19 has gotten younger, with the percentage of patients over 65 going from between 20-25%, down to just 5%.
“It’s younger people, and it’s gathering, not following the guidelines of public health. We can do better,” Kellermann said.
County officials said locally there has been no single clear cause for the recent uptick in cases, with social gatherings and workplace exposures continuing to be factors.
“It’s coming from a variety of sources,” Gruver said. “There’s not a single outbreak or source that we can point to as a theme.”
In a Tuesday press release, county officials attributed the increase in case rate to “local, organized opposition to proven public health prevention methods, particularly in Western Nevada County.”
County public information officer Taylor Wolfe did not provide evidence for this or say how that conclusion was made.
“The data is only as good as the data provided to us,” Wolfe said.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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