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Nevada County Public Health officials expressed concern today about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada County. With a 7-day average of 10.9 cases per day, Nevada County has a higher COVID-19 rate than most counties in the state.

There are currently four active COVID-19 outbreaks in Nevada County. An “outbreak” is defined as three or more cases not within same household in a 14-day period. While Public Health officials do not share details about specific outbreaks, they said they are seeing cases rise in both Eastern and Western Nevada County.

“We are not out of the woods on COVID-19,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann. “This virus is still very prevalent in our community, as are variants. This is not the time to let our guard down. It is prudent to remain cautious.”

Kellermann noted, “The vaccines prevent the virus’ spread. The CDC now recommends that for fully vaccinated individuals, mask wearing and physical distancing is not needed when outdoors with small gatherings or dining indoors with unvaccinated members of one family (unless a member is at risk of serious disease). However, unvaccinated individuals should continue to mask and distance.”

For those who have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19, the Nevada County Public Health department is available to provide additional information and support. “There is no punishment and there is no shame,” said Public Health Director Jill Blake. “Our staff is here to connect you to support.”

Public Health staff has begun reaching out to individuals effected by the recent outbreaks. Blake asked that members of the public work with Public Health staff if they are contacted directly. “Our measures to prevent disease transmission can be really effective, but only if people participate with us,” she said.

Officials also noted the demand for COVID-vaccine leveling off well before enough people have been vaccinated to reach herd immunity. According to CDC data, currently only 36.8% of Nevada County residents over age 18 have been fully vaccinated, as are 56.3% of those over age 65. “Almost 44% of seniors remain unimmunized, and seniors are the most vulnerable group,” Kellermann stressed. “Please encourage your parents and grandparents to become immunized, as COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and highly effective.”

With the addition of the new Public Health vaccination clinic at the Sierra College Grass Valley campus next week, vaccination appointments will be available six days a week in Nevada County. The clinic is open Tuesday through Saturday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Appointments for the entire month of May are currently available at MyTurn.ca.gov. The clinic at Sierra College administers the Moderna vaccine to anyone age 18 and over.

“I’d urge parents to discuss immunizations with their children, as cases are on the rise in young people,” said Dr. Kellermann. “Age 16 and up are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, whereas Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are appropriate for age 18 and older.” There are at least three options for the Pfizer vaccine in Nevada County, including Dokimos Pharmacy, the Whispering Pines clinic in Grass Valley, and CVS in Truckee.

“I want to emphasize the importance of remaining cautious, and of getting vaccinated,” Kellermann said. “It’s the only way to contain this pandemic.”

Go to MyNevadaCounty.com/GetVaccinated to find information on COVID-19 vaccine appointments near you.