Officials say COVID-19 surge may move El Dorado into purple tier |

Officials say COVID-19 surge may move El Dorado into purple tier

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — On the same day the California Department of Public Health released a statement encouraging all state residents to stay home and not travel due to the risk of COVID-19 spreading, El Dorado County announced 37 new coronavirus cases and its health officer showed concern over possibly moving into the most restrictive purple tier. 

Washoe County also reported its largest single day increase since the pandemic began on Friday.

Those COVID-19 positive results in El Dorado on Friday came out of 393 test results returned between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6, showing a 3.4% positivity rate.

Four patients are hospitalized in intensive care.

Of the 37 new cases, 14 were in the Lake Tahoe region, five were in the Greater Placerville area, six were in Cameron Park/Shingle Springs/Rescue, three were in Pollock Pines, Camino and Kyburz, three were in North County and six were in El Dorado Hills.

These numbers come one day after 42 new cases were found between Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 making 79 new cases over a three-day period.

There has been a total of 1,637 cases reported in El Dorado County since the pandemic first hit in March and 147 since Nov. 1.

Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams, appearing Friday at a Tahoe Chamber Zoom meeting, talked about virus spread throughout the county, and in Nevada, and said “it doesn’t look good.”

“Our rates are going up so much we may go into the purple tier, we haven’t been in that level before,” Williams said.

El Dorado was moved to the red tier last of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Tuesday, but Williams appealed to the state hoping to stay in the orange tier, but she said she feels like the county will be assigned to red by next Tuesday, Nov. 17. She cited the hospital systems not being stressed and the test positivity rate remaining good as positives, but doesn’t think that’s enough.

“We bought a week of the orange tier, but I don’t have much hope of staying there,” Williams said.

She is also unsure if the state will hold that extra week in the orange tier against the county when reevaluating, which the state does every Tuesday. Counties must remain in the same tier for two weeks before being eligible for a move.

The county’s case rates right now are way above the red tier which is four to seven new cases a day. The purple tier starts at eight cases per day. 

An increase in cases statewide led the state to urge Californians to stay close to home this holiday season. Officials also recommended that anyone who visits the state or travels outside of it and comes back, quarantine for 14 days.

Williams said moving into the purple tier is a real possibility in early December and added that people “need to stop mingling for a while.”

“We really need to get the case rate down,” Williams said. “With cases rising in Douglas and Washoe counties, I would consider that a significant threat to our Tahoe people right now.”

Douglas is also in a virus surge, although the new cases are in the valley not in the lake communities. Carson City Health and Human Services, which oversees Carson City, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties, reported 25 new cases on Friday in the Quad County region.

Douglas has 34 active cases out of 473 total. In Zephyr Cove there are no active cases out of 28 overall and there is just one active case in Stateline out of 31 since the pandemic began.

Washoe County announced a record high of in single day cases Friday with 529, breaking the previous high of 469 set Nov. 7.

In Incline Village, there are 19 active cases out of 125 total and recently the third case was identified in Crystal Bay.

Officials said the rise in COVID-19 transmission is creating issues throughout communities, including reduced capacity at area hospitals, delays in COVID-19 test result notification as well as disease investigation and contact tracing.

County commissioner Marsha Berkbigler said the situation is serious because both Renown and St. Mary’s regional medical centers are full. She said Renown opened one floor of beds in its garage and that is also now full. Patients are being taken to other facilities.

She also reiterated Gov. Sisolak’s directives to shop by pick up and delivery and not to leave home for the next two weeks, except for essential travel. 

Sisolak, who tested positive for the virus this week, on Tuesday gave Nevadans two weeks to get the virus under better control or face further consequences, likely more business closures.

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