COVID-19 affecting all areas in county, case numbers increase

COVID-19 cases are increasing, and Lassen County was second in the state for new cases per capita, Health and Social Services Director and local COVID-19 Co-Incident Commander Barbara Longo said in her update during the Tuesday, Dec. 8 Lassen County Board of Supervisors meeting.

As of Wednesday, there were 431 active community cases, five currently hospitalized, four deaths reported and 337 recovered.

“To just kind of give you an idea of the state we are in right now, our state is experiencing a surge, and Lassen County is obviously a part of that. We see that in our numbers. In fact, Lassen County has the second highest number of new cases per capita in the state, only second to Sutter County,” she told the board.

The meeting, which was held at Jensen Hall at the Lassen County Fairgrounds, drew a crowd as local residents came to voice their concerns on agenda items including the recent school closure order and a discussion on potential future commercial cannabis cultivation — two hotly debated topics.

Prior to the local health officer giving an update on the order, though, Longo shared every part of the county has been impacted, from those incarcerated to correctional institution staff, the community and even public health staff.

“When we look at the outbreaks in the community, it’s county staff as well, and it has hit your public health department. We have fewer staff to fight a bigger battle here,” she said, adding the local team was fierce and working hard.

“Our numbers are through the roof. Every single positive case we have to case manage, we have to follow that person and we have to figure out how many people are associated with that positive person. We are behind in our numbers and reporting, we know that, but our priority is to make sure the people who are positive are isolated properly, have the resources they need and figure out where they are in their health status,” Longo said.

During the meeting, Longo also referenced the two recent deaths associated with the COVID-19 outbreak at a local skilled nursing facility.

“It was really hard to hear. After about eight months they really held firm and kept those folks safe, but this weekend … we learned that they had an outbreak, and Friday they had a death, and then another individual passed away over the weekend. And they have several people right now who are positive, and again, it’s not just the residents there, it’s also staff,” she said Tuesday.

When the local public health team learned about the skilled nursing facility, it hit them hard knowing it would be a big hit in the community, Longo said.

“Saturday morning I received a text, and it said ‘game over,’ and that’s kind of hard as a public administrator to hear your staff, knowing how hard they worked, face defeat right there in front of them. However, it just took us a minute, and we regrouped, we anticipated our needs moving forward and stepped up again to the plate, ” said Longo, noting one of the steps taken involved moving the community social services department out of the building shared with public health.

Longo thanked county staff and administration for their support.