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El Dorado may be eligible soon for less restrictive COVID-19 tier

Dawn Hodson / Mountain Democrat

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting got up to speed on COVID-19 matters.

Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams reported that while coronavirus case rates overall declined from their July peak, it’s not clear if El Dorado County had a new wave of cases in September since all cases from that month have not yet been reported.

Through Oct. 5 there have been a total of 1,207 cases, including four — possibly five — deaths in the county. A fifth person, a man, died in Sacramento but is an El Dorado County resident. Williams said it’s not official if he will be counted in this county’s or Sacramento County’s statistics.

El Dorado County is currently in the “moderate” tier of the state’s COVID-19 county-by-county monitoring system but may be eligible to move to the next, less restrictive, “minimal” tier, as soon as next week, Williams said, but she cautioned the county could also stay in the moderate tier or even move backward due to a recent surge in cases. 

Williams said the rise in positive tests appears to be linked to a fitness facility where cases may have originated from parents attending an event at the facility. Other gatherings may also have contributed to the uptick in cases, she noted.

The next time the state calculates COVID-19 metrics will be Oct. 12.

Williams emphasized the importance of taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including limiting mixing with people from other households, wearing masks in public, keeping at least 6 feet of physical distance from others, washing hands regularly, doing things outdoors rather than indoors whenever possible and isolating if infected.

In an update on schools Williams reported more campuses reopened Sept. 28 with many implementing the hybrid model. COVID-19 testing services for staff and teachers is now operational. Black Oak Mine Unified School District, in the Georgetown Divide area, is fully open for in-person instruction while Lake Tahoe Unified School District is phasing in a hybrid model.

A virtual town hall meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic is being planned from 5:30 to 7 pm. Nov. 12 or 19. It will be moderated with a panel of speakers and include a situational update, scientific updates and hot topics.

In the discussion that followed Supervisor John Hidahl asked if those who died in the county also had comorbidities. Williams responded that even if they did, their lives were unnecessarily shortened by the coronavirus.

Supervisor Lori Parlin asked if the county could appeal being returned to a more restrictive tier. Williams said there is an adjudication process and being able to show the state that the county is doing things the right way would help if it were to come to that.

With the general election coming up, Registrar of Voters Bill O’Neill addressed the board and outlined the steps being taken to conduct the election while keeping voters as safe as possible from COVID-19.

O’Neill prefaced his remarks noting that because the number of voters has increased and turnout is expected to be 85% or higher, they previously decided to relocate five voting centers to larger facilities that allow for social distancing.

Voters can also cast ballots outside if they wish, although there will be some limitations. Thermometers will be in use at the vote centers and the number of people admitted inside at any one time will be limited. Staff will all be wearing masks or face shields and voters will be asked to wear them as well, although O’Neill said they can’t force people to wear a mask. Common areas will be continually cleaned and disinfected to control for the disease.

Asked about possible disruptions at voting sites, O’Neill acknowledged that while this will be a “very emotional election,” he didn’t expect that to be an issue and if it becomes one they can always rely on El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies to deescalate the situation.


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