March 11, 2020 – Nevada County has had ten persons under investigation (PUIs) for coronavirus, nine of whom have tested negative for COVID-19. The one that is currently under investigation for COVID-19 is being tested, and there are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nevada County.
Nevada County Public Health officials are actively investigating new PUIs 24/7 to ensure that we are taking precautionary measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada County. Nevada County Public Health does not typically report the number of PUIs when the PUI number is very low, due to the small size of our community and efforts to allow PUIs their anonymity. Should there be a positive test result for a Nevada County resident, we will alert the community immediately.
The current data around COVID-19 tells us that 80% of those infected with this disease will have only mild to moderate symptoms and are likely able to recover on their own. Older adults, individuals with compromised immune systems and underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are more at risk from COVID-19. While children can be infected with COVID-19, they don’t appear to be as vulnerable to this disease as do the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
In Nevada County, testing for COVID-19 has been prioritized for vulnerable populations and those who have reported contact with known cases.
“The number of tests of Nevada County residents so far has been low but to date is actually proportional to the number in California as a whole,” said Dr. Ken Cutler, Nevada County’s Public Health Officer. “Unfortunately, because testing for the COVID-19 virus through the public health laboratory system has been very limited, the few tests have had to be prioritized for certain risks such as severe illness in the hospital or an exposed healthcare worker.”
Testing for COVID-19
Until this week, the actual testing was conducted in Public Health labs across California, such as the nearest Public Health lab in Sacramento, or by the CDC. Starting this week, commercial labs are able to test for COVID-19. These tests will still need to be ordered by a licensed health care provider and health care providers are still directed to utilize CDC’s testing criteria, but if the testing is performed by a commercial lab, then consultation with the local public health department is not required or necessary.
Commercial labs testing will dramatically increase the state’s capacity to run tests. Last week, fewer than 200 tests could be completed in one day statewide. California Department of Public Health estimates that commercial labs in California will soon have the capacity to run over 5,000 tests per day. As testing expands, each county’s PUI number will likely increase substantially, and Nevada County will likely see a substantial increase in diagnosed cases of COVID-19.
With approximately 800,000 California residents (or 2% of California’s population) possibly experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms at this time of year, testing everyone with symptoms has not been possible. Though commercial labs are now testing for COVID-19, the demand for tests will still exceed the supply, but testing capacity continues to improve.
Slow the Spread and Preparedness
Nevada County Public Health will inform the public if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in Nevada County. In the meantime, it is highly encouraged for the community to prepare for the possibility of coronavirus transmission in Nevada County. Residents are encouraged to wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, sneeze into tissues as coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets and stay home if they are sick.
Health Care Treatment
The current data around COVID-19 tells us that 80% of those infected with this disease will have only mild to moderate symptoms and are likely able to recover on their own. Those with cold-like symptoms who can manage their symptoms at home with over the counter medications should do so, regardless of whether they have a cold, the flu or COVID-19. If, however, difficulty breathing and lethargy develops, or symptoms were better and then get worse, they should call their healthcare provider or urgent care center ahead so they can prepare to take care of them. People should only call 911 or go to an emergency department if they believe they are extremely sick, or their life is in imminent danger.
These recommendations are part of an effort to prevent our local health care systems from being quickly overwhelmed and ensuring local capacity to care for those who are most ill and most at risk for serious complications from their illness.
Information on Coronavirus in Nevada County
This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. For the most up-to-date, verified information about coronavirus in Nevada County, visit www.mynevadacounty.com/coronavirus.
Public Health has activated Connecting Point’s Call Center to answer community questions. Dial 2-1-1 or 833-DIAL211 (833-342-5211) to talk with a call center representative.