El Dorado County remains orange; Officials bracing for holidays, winter | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado County remains orange; Officials bracing for holidays, winter

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County is staying in the orange tier of the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system and health officials say while there is hope for a move into the yellow, less restrictive, level, conversations need to start now about holiday guidelines to prevent a possible move backward.

California recently issued guidelines for Halloween, but has not yet addressed the two biggest holidays of the year.

“I am very concerned about holiday gatherings, this is not a good year to host extended family,” said Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams Tuesday during a Board of Supervisors meeting. “The state hasn’t talked beyond Halloween yet, but I think it’s time to talk about Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Williams said for the upcoming holidays we all should enjoy immediate family and postpone travel to enjoy larger gatherings, especially when it comes to family elders. And, as always, wear masks and limit close contact.

“It appears we’re going into a third wave,” Williams said and added that California is doing well compared to what’s happening in the eastern half of the country where, for example, Texas has its highest number of hospitalizations since late August. “We kinda had a second wave in September and October is looking better, but we need to maintain.”

Not maintaining and moving back into the red tier could be fatal for some businesses, including restaurants who are already limited to 50% indoor capacity in both the orange and yellow tiers. In red it would be 25% and outdoor dining will become more challenging during winter.

But the county is moving closer to lesser restrictions. The positivity rate over the seven days is 1.2% with the average case rate 2.1 per 100,000, both in the yellow range.

On Monday, officials reported 15 new cases on 619 tests over a 3-day period, Saturday-Monday, five of which were from the Lake Tahoe region. The Tahoe region has had 40% of the county’s total coronavirus cases (511 out of 1,290). There have been four virus-related deaths overall, two were from the Tahoe area. There are no patients hospitalized.

Williams thinks the county can reach the yellow tier, “but it will be challenging.”

She also discussed a possible vaccine that, at earliest, would be available in 2021 and first be administered to the most vulnerable before being distributed to the general population.

“Going indoors will be risky,” she said. “Hopefully, we do everything right until the vaccine arrives and we can get through the winter without a big spike. I think this will be the trickiest time of year. We need to hang in there.”

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