County awaits state’s reopening approval, mass testing in works

Lassen County officials continue to wait for a response from California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s public health officer regarding local plans to reopen some businesses in compliance with the 47-page “Lassen County Roadmap to Recovery” and determinations made by Lassen County Public Health Officer Kenneth Korver that the county had met the requirements to begin its Phase One reopening plan.

As of Wednesday, May 6 the lassencares website reports zero known COVID-19 cases in Lassen County; 133 negative tests; and two test results pending.

According to Korver’s presentation to the Lassen County Board of Supervisors at a special meeting held Friday, May 1 he had determined the county had met all six indicators required by the state to launch the reopening process.

These six indicators are designed to:

  • Ensure our ability to care for the sick within our hospitals:
  • Prevent infection in people who are at high risk for severe disease:
  • Build the capacity to protect the health and well being of the pubic: and
  • Reduce social, emotional and economic disruptions.

The board met at Jensen Hall to receive the report from Korver; endorse Lassen County’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan; direct staff to give effect to Lassen County’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan when authority exists to do so; and provide direction to staff.

Richard Egan, Lassen County administrative officer and a public information officer for the county’s COVID-19 Incident Command team, said he’s still waiting for a response from state officials to a letter he wrote last week regarding the local phase one reopening plan, but he has not received a response. He said the county would need approval from the governor and the state’s health officer before putting the plan into effect. He said he plans to write another letter to state officials.

Before the county could begin reopening, Egan said he expects the state health officer to issue a revised order requiring the counties to have a plan in place approved by the board of supervisors before being released from the conditions of the current order.

He said he understands the state’s first order may not allow the reopening of salons, gyms or bars.

“Until they issue the order, we don’t know,” Egan said.

According to Egan, the board of supervisors may have to hold a special meeting on Friday in order to approve a local plan that complies with the conditions required by the state officials. He said salons, bars and gyms were included in the local plan approved by the supervisors. The state may require the county to exclude those businesses, and that would require a special board meeting. He said the local plan allowed the opening of most businesses with the same social distancing and cleanliness guidelines for everyone, with the exception of mass gatherings and special events.

“We’re hoping,” Egan said. “We’re hearing there’s supposed to be some guidance tomorrow, Thursday, and an announcement on Friday, but that’s just speculation.”


Mass testing

The state announced the opening of testing sites in the state, and Lassen County is not included as one of the initial sites.

However, in the weekly update released Wednesday from the incident command, mass testing will be conducted at Lassen Community College before the end of the month.

“We secured 16,000 tests from the state,” read the weekly update. “We plan to use out mobile flu clinic unit that we train for each year. More information will be in the next weekday edition.”

This will not be an antibody test.

Egan said he thought having the capacity for mass testing could be one of the state’s requirements to allow the county to reopen.