Infected delivery driver apparently didn’t spread COVID-19 in Lassen County

Many local residents expressed concern after rumors of a Coronavirus-positive Schwan’s delivery driver making deliveries here hit social media.

Dr. Kenneth Korver, Lassen County’s Public Health Officer, and Richard Egan, Lassen County’s Administrative Officer who also serves as a public information officer for the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center, both acknowledged the driver was in Lassen County, but there are no reports of infected individuals.

“We’re working really hard to keep it out of this county as long as we can,” Korver said. “That’s our job — corral it before it gets out of control.”

The doctor said the danger of contracting the disease is diminished if people take the appropriate precautions, especially social distancing.

“One thing we need to let people know is these bugs do not jump, they do not crawl,” Korver said. “If someone has Coronavirus they can’t give it to you if you’re six feet apart … however you can get it if someone coughs in their hand and you shake hands and then you touch your face.”

Korver praised the team of county leaders assembled to deal with the Coronavirus threat.

“They’re doing a wonderful job,” Korver said. “They’ve got everything scheduled and watched. Everything we need to do is already being looked at to see what would happen if we did have a severe problem. We’re trying as hard as we can to ever keep us from having a severe problem. We can handle somebody coming in with the disease who gives it to one or two people. What we cannot handle is somebody coming in here and giving it to 50 people. That’s more than we can handle with what we have.”

Korver updated the supervisors on concerns circulating though the community.

“There was a driver from Schwans delivering things to Susanville, and he came down with the Coronavirus,” Korver told the Lassen County Board of Supervisors during its Tuesday, April 14 meeting. “However it turns out that we now think the driver was apparently not in Susanville during the past two weeks,” so he may not have been contagious when he was here making deliveries.

“The driver apparently hands the bags to someone who wants to put it in their freezer or whatever they’re doing with the food, and it’s possible if that driver really had the disease, which he does, and he was in Susanville, then it’s possible to transmit the disease — his hand to the bag, the bag to your hand … so, today we’re checking on that.”

And Korver said they’re also now checking to see if there was a second driver in the truck.

Egan said, “The point of concern we had was when was he over here last because of the incubation period. They (the Schwans company) did respond that date was April 3, so the incubation period is almost over. So it gets more and more unlikely someone would come down with it the further away you get from the date of exposure.”

Egan said it’s unclear how many local residents may have had contact with the driver. The company reported he has about 200 stops, and Schwans reported it had advised everyone on the route about the possible exposure. The route may have included stops I both California and Nevada.

“We don’t know,” Egan said. “That might have been everybody on his route if he went to every house. We just don’t know.”

He said the county is not tracking the people the driver may have come in contact with due to the amount of time that has passed since the possible exposure.

He said no one has come forward, “and there’s really nothing to do unless they are symptomatic.”

Egan dispelled a persistent local rumor. He said if a Lassen County resident tested positive in Washoe or any other county, that county would notify us, and it would be a Lassen County case.

And Korver acknowledged another rumor circulating on social media — a number of shoppers from Reno seen in Safeway’s parking lot. He said he didn’t know if the shoppers were coming here from Reno because the stores are better stocked or because we are so far free of the Coronavirus.

“That’s a little worrisome,” Korver said.

Another concern reverberates about the prison population.

“We have a problem we’re still dealing with with the prison, Korver said. “The prison out in Herlong is a federal prison, and we sent a letter to the federal prison saying please don’t send or transport prisoners in. A week or so ago, they brought in a busload of people … the result we got from the letter was, more or less, if the court sends them to us, we’re taking them.”

Board chair David Teeter said the prison responded if a marshal delivers a prisoner; legally the prison must accept them.

But Korver said they shouldn’t bring people from an area that has the virus to an area that does not.

Teeter suggested the prisoners could be screened before they come here.

Korver also suggested people could do more than simply hide away in their homes.

“Were not telling people they have to stay in their houses,” Korver said. “You can certainly do other things in Lassen County.

The doctor also praised the people of Lassen County for their efforts to limit the spread of the disease.