Rapid rise in virus cases prompts new measures in workplaces

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Coronavirus cases are rising on both sides of the state line, forcing officials to reconsider restrictions.

On Tuesday, 48 new COVID cases were reported by El Dorado County, with 13 of them being in the Lake Tahoe Region. On Wednesday it was 27 new cases and on Thursday 53 cases were reported.

This adds to the overall 78 cases reported over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases in El Dorado County to 11,063. Ten people were in the county’s two hospitals as of Thursday, including seven in intensive care units. There have been 120 deaths, none this past week.

Additionally, Carson City Health and Human Services confirmed an additional 162 new cases and 74 additional recoveries in the past week, from July 22-28.

With cases rising every day, and 11 of them confirmed to be of the delta variant in El Dorado County from early May to mid-June, the county is advising those who are not yet vaccinated to continue wearing a mask in public settings, continue social distancing, and to maintain similar protocols to when COVID first appeared in the US.

Carla Hass, director of communications and outreach with El Dorado County, said that while there are cases of the delta variant are rising, it’s hard to know as quickly which cases are the variant due to longer testing times.

“It takes a long time for us to get that information because the specimens are randomly sampled and it’s taking two to three weeks to get that information back,” said Hass.

As restrictions continue to fluctuate across the country, the larger issue of vaccination and tracking the spread of the virus is one that El Dorado County has yet to fully get a handle on.

“The state has two different systems with which they collect and provide cases,” said Hass. “The two systems don’t talk well with one another. We are also dependent on people’s willingness to talk to our contact tracers, so when a case is reported to us, a contact tracer calls that person, and basically talks through where they’ve been, if they’ve been in contact with other people to see how they got it.

“We ask if they’ve been vaccinated and they may or may not answer our call at all, they may not answer the vaccination question. So it’s very, very difficult for us to reliably provide any of that information to the public.”

Without the ability to fully track vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in a timely manner with testing for the variant, the only thing the county can suggest to residents is to continue taking the necessary precautions that CDC and other health organizations have been suggesting.

This comes as California begins to take a harder stance against the COVID virus, following Gov. Newsom’s decision that all state and health care workers are required to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, while also encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same.

The policy goes into effect Aug. 2 for state workers and Aug. 9 for health care workers. It gives health care workers until Aug. 23 to comply, and is another step in multiple programs and initiatives that California has used to get more residents vaccinated.

Those who choose not to get vaccinated will be subject to at least weekly COVID-19 testing, as well as being required to wear appropriate protective gear, with requirements extending to high risk congregate centers, such as adult and senior residential facilities, homeless shelters, and jails.

Vaccination sites are set up in the Tahoe basin, as well as in the Reno and Sparks area, with appointments available on the health department website, as well as

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