Covid-19 on the rise in El Dorado Co. |

Covid-19 on the rise in El Dorado Co.

Laney Griffo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Following the holidays, there has been a significant spike in positive COVID-19 cases in El Dorado County.

As of January 3, there are 587 active cases that have been reported, 128 of which are in South Lake Tahoe. There are 17 hospitalizations and 5 patients in the ICU.

“Similar to the rest of California, our region is beginning to see an uptick in COVID cases. The majority of cases are among people able to recover at home, and hospitalizations are currently stable although expected to increase over the next two weeks,” said Mindi Befu, Public Information Officer, Barton Health.

With the availability of at-home tests, these numbers might not accurately reflect the number of positive cases.

“Fewer reports of positive cases will undoubtedly be reported if people are using over the counter tests instead of going to clinics, pharmacies, or testing sites, but the public health community is in agreement that making it as easy as possible for people to know whether they have COVID overrides the disadvantage of not being able to capture all cases in our counts,” said Dr. Nancy Williams, Public Health Officer, El Dorado County.

The California Department of Public Health recently sent information to local health jurisdictions about the benefits of at-home testing, such as earlier detection, the possibility of shorter isolation periods and slowed spread of the virus.

“Getting a test through a medical facility, pharmacy, or test site may be difficult to achieve in a timely manner given the current demand, which makes home antigen testing all the more valuable,” Williams continued. “We want to empower individuals to make informed decisions about the need to isolate or quarantine based on home testing rather than waiting for the ability to have a test performed elsewhere.”

Williams and CDPH urge people who receive positive results from an at-home test to report their results. Each test comes with instructions on how to do so.

“I’m not too worried about the inaccurate counts. We will still be able to track rises and drops in case counts, hospitaliations, and deaths,” Williams said. “As more time passes, we are likely to start asking for less information about cases anyway. The expectation is that COVID will eventually be like influenza where we focus on tracking most concerning statistics like hospitalizations and deaths.”

In the meantime, COVID is negatively impacting employers in South Lake, including Barton.

“The increase in community spread has also impacted Barton staffing,” Befu said. “Barton has implemented a State-approved team staffing model to care for patients, is utilizing a staffing agency to contract with highly qualified clinicians, and is partnering with El Dorado County and the State of California for staffing assistance as needed.”

“Barton continues to follow CDC health guidelines to safely return staff to work, providing appropriate PPE for healthcare settings,” Befu added.

Barton reiterates the Center for Disease Control recommendation for all eligible people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and subsequent booster at least 6 months after the primary vaccination. Indoor mask mandates are still in place for both California and Nevada.

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District sent out a statement reminding parents to keep children home that have symptoms of illness.

“We are seeing a tremendous amount of illness in our community with many staff and students testing positive for COVID. Please do not send your child to school or come to work if you have ANY symptoms of illness,” the statement said.

For Williams, this is when at-home testing becomes most important.

“In particular, once they get distributed, testing of students before they go to school, after holidays, weekends, or events, should be helpful with respect to keeping infectious kids out of classrooms and – we hope – keeping in-person learning running as smoothly as possible,” Williams said. “We hope they will also be used by people who work with vulnerable people, too, in addition to routine testing performed by their employers.”

COVID TESTING for staff and students only is being provided by CDPH at Al Tahoe school in the Elevated Portable – P1 every Thursday from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for staff or students who have been exposed to a positive Covid case or are symptomatic.



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